Labor feds unite, vow to hold biggest rally in decades

Labor federations vowed to hold their biggest Labor Day protest on Tuesday after agreeing to jointly march against President Duterte’s failed promise to end contractualization.

In a press conference in Manila Friday, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and Nagkaisa Labor Coalition said as many as 60,000 workers in Metro Manila and 150,000 all over the country will march as one on May 1.

“The growing frustration, disappointment and dissatisfaction of workers over President Rodrigo Duterte’s failure to fulfil a promise have only bonded workers,” KMU and Nagkaisa said.

Long rivals, the federations have formed an alliance after Duterte turned on his promise to end labor only contracting and issue an executive order ending the practice.

KMU and Nagkaisa said their joint May 1 protests are an “historic first.”

“This year’s commemoration of Labor Day will be different. It will be a national day of solidarity and action of leaders, members, allies and supporters of Nagkaisa and KMU and all citizens who have been frustrated over the injustices committed against workers and the Filipino people and government’s continued inaction and negligence,” Nagkaisa and KMU said in a joint statement.

“For two years, we participated in labor summits called for by ( the Department of Labor and Employment), dialogued with the President three times, drafted an Executive Order (EO) on contractualization, negotiated with him through five drafts—all to no avail,” KMU and Nagkaisa said.

The groups said they also intended to engage Congress on the issue but were stopped when informed by Senate Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resources Development chairperson Senator Joel Villanueva that Congress will act based on Malacañang’s ”signal”.

“Now that a directive by way of an EO that would declare direct hiring as the norm has been shelved, the Senate might just follow this lead,” the federations said.

“We are utterly frustrated. Despite our desire to continue sitting at the negotiating table and follow reason, the President has decided on retaining business-as-usual, by siding with local and foreign investors who have no respect for security of tenure,” the groups added.

“(Duterte) has agreed to the false ‘win-win solution’ of (the Department of Trade and Industry) that encourages manpower agency regularization and not direct hiring with the principal employers,” Nagkaisa and KMU said.

In an April 19 press briefing, DOLE secretary Silvestre Bello III said the President will no longer sign an EO but will instead certify as urgent a pending bill in Congress ending contractualization.

KMU earlier said legislators would only ensure such laws would be watered-down and mangled.

Nagkaisa and KMU said protesters will start marching from various points as early as six o’clock in the morning and will converge at Morayta Street at about 10 am before proceeding to Mendiola Tuesday. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)