Pinoy workers in grip of worst kind of poverty
Millions of Filipinos from the toiling masses still suffer from poverty despite the 22-point labor and employment agenda that the Aquino administration promised to implement almost six years ago. The government continues to boast of the country’s economic prosperity, pointing to its consistent GDP growth in recent years.
However, ordinary people and workers have not benefited from the growth. A large segment of the public does not have access to the limited goods and opportunities available. Instead, Filipino workers are pushed deeper into the pit of misery—unemployment, slave labor, unjust wage, insecurity of jobs, unsafe working conditions, exploitation, harassment and commoditization.
The recent bloody assault on the protesting “Kidapawan farmers,” who were in urgent need of food aid and were facing imminent starvation and death, is prima facie evidence of government’s continued neglect of poor and marginalized peasants and workers, and of its nonchalant regard of their pleas and cries. This insensitive attitude of the government has made the hunger and poverty situation in the country even worse.
The government should be reminded of these words of Pope Francis: “There is no worse material poverty than the poverty which prevents people from earning their bread and deprives them of the dignity of work.”
In the face of the miserable and precarious plight of Filipino workers, we, the convenors of the Church People-Workers Solidarity (CWS), speak with compassionate courage to call on the Aquino administration and the candidates for key political positions in the May 2016 elections to give a new impetus to employment and include in their legislative agenda the promotion of the dignity of work and the protection of workers’ rights.
Specifically, we call and demand the following:
- Put an end to contractualization, an exploitative and antiworker employment scheme. Through this scheme, employers cut down wages, benefits and undercut unions.
- Pay workers a just wage. Until now, no substantial wage increase has been given our workers to at least lessen the gap between the minimum wage and the living wage.
- Institute industrial and labor policies to ensure workers’ safety. Unsafe working places continue to claim innocent lives and maim workers.
- Intensify the protection of the dignity and labor rights of the OFWs.
- Work must be combined with the preservation of ecological integrity.
The country’s workforce significantly contributes to its economy. Unfortunately, our Filipino workers remain at the seams of our society, their voice oft getting drowned out amid the politics of greed. Let us strengthen our voice and stand up to the abuses and exploitation of workers, and put our trust in our collective power as a people to defend the rights gained by the struggles of the Filipino workers.
May the God of our history, who is full of mercy and compassion, accompany our Filipino workers in their struggle for a just and humane society.
—REV. FR. QUIRICO PEDREGOSA JR., Order of Preacher, CWS national secretary; REV. FR. RUDY ABAO, Missionary of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, CWS convenor
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