Ang Bayan
April 21, 2021

Demand for 2021 Labor Day: Just aid and wage increase now!

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The Kilusang Mayo Uno, along with its affiliate unions and other labor organizations, launched a series of protest last April 16 to drumbeat their demand for a ₱10,000-aid for all who lost their jobs during the pandemic and a ₱100-wage increase for all workers and farm workers. On the same day, workers conducted a noise barrage in Mendiola, Manila to demand the implementation of a ₱750-national daily minimum wage. On April 19, more than 100 members of the 10K Ayuda Network marched in Quezon City in conjunction with the filing of petition for the distribution of ₱10,000-aid to 18 million families for two months. A protest action was also mounted in Davao City on April 9.

On April 15, the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura filed a petition at the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for a ₱100-wage increase for 10.3 million farm workers. The petition was filed despite the agency’s junking of the earlier demand of the Defend Jobs Philippines’ insisting that an across-the-board wage increase is beyond its authority.

The ₱1,000-aid from the ₱23 billion allocated by the Duterte regime when it implemented a two-week enhanced community quarantine in the National Capital Region and four other provinces is only equivalent two a two-day salary in the National Capital Region (NCR). This is way lower than the ₱420-billion aid package under the Bayanihan 3 which was proposed in Congress, and even lower than ₱1.5 trillion aid package suggested by Ibon Foundation for decent aid to more and more families who have suffered from the extremely long lockdown.

In a research by the Economic Policy Research Institute last December 2020 in NCR, almost all urban poor families (19 out of 20) said that they experienced job or income loss last year. Only more than half (65%) said that they were able to receive financial aid. Majority (92%) of these families said that they have at least one family member who is vulnerable to Covid-19 infection (elderly, pregnant, babies, sick or disabled.)

Given that urban poor families loss 30% of their income and that not all have been able to receive aid, the institute estimated that national poverty headcount ratio (those who live on $1.90 or ₱90 per day) to have doubled to 32.8% in 2020 from 16.8% in 2018.

Among those who suffered hardships are are the millions who lost their jobs and income. Around 12 million workers were unemployed or underemployed last February. This excludes millions of workers dropped from the labor force survey during the same period.

Most of those reemployed when the economy was reopened are in occupations with low wages and that are contractual or informal. According to Ibon Foundation, 48% or 923,000 of the 1.9 million workers who were reemployed in February are part-time workers (with less than 40 working hours), while 23% of them were categorized as employed but furloughed.

AB (2021-04-21): Demand for 2021 Labor Day: Just aid and wage increase now!