LABOR DAY 2008
A UNITY DECLARATION OF THE FILIPINO WORKING PEOPLE ON THE ISSUES OF RICE AND FOOD CRISIS, SCARCITY OF JOBS, AND INJUSTICES BROUGHT ABOUT BY GMA SUBCRIPTION TO THE NEO-LIBERAL POLICIES
WE, representatives of the workers and other toiling masses, together with different peoples’ organization and workers’ rights advocates, have joined hands in the observance of Labor Day 2008 and declare:
We aim to work together and find solutions to the unfolding crisis that confronts our nation today in the true spirit of solidarity among and with the working people in the struggle for a better life and society;
We are alarmed that while the food and rice crisis is worsening, we see the government’s ineptness. It resorts to double talk instead of providing immediate and long term solutions to problems of shortage of supply, difficulty of access and unaffordable prices of essential food items;
We believe that the country’s food crisis stems mainly from internal causes. These include gross neglect of agriculture; irresponsible use of our land, forest and marine resources; absence of real land reform; mindless adherence to WTO’s Agreement on Agriculture and market manipulations by monopolists and syndicates. While we concede that global food shortage, rising oil prices and climate change are factors; we believe these are external, secondary and non-decisive;
We deplore the government’s continuing blind obedience to powerful economies’ imposition to liberalize, deregulate and privatize Philippine economy. Liberalization wiped out the remaining potentials and or seeds of development of industries the country reached during the 1960’s and the 1970 are thus widening joblessness among the supposedly working population.
We lament the use of labor flexibility imposed through various schemes such as downsizing, re-engineering and retooling. This compounds the present food crisis. Casualization, contractualization or the precarious hiring scheme that became the norm in the era of neo liberalization has driven millions of workers and their families into a life of untold misery as they are deprived of job security, decent jobs and living wages. We denounce the government’s support for this scheme.
We have therefore come together to manifest our collective position that:
1. Government must provide emergency relief without much ado, such as rice and food price subsidy to all, removal of tax for all minimum wage earners, issuance of executive order for a national across the board wage increase equivalent to eroded portion of wage brought about by rice and oil price hikes – pending a national legislated across the board increase.
2. Agriculture and industry should both be developed side by side. Food self-sufficiency should be the main focus of agriculture to ensure food sovereignty. A developed industry will not only advance the economy greatly but will also create more decent jobs for the entire labor force that will resolved the steadily growing precarious type of works.
3. Food sovereignty means the country produces the basic food requirements of the population, not dependent on importation and free from foreign dictates and monopoly manipulation.
4. Immediate solutions should however be decisively made to avert famine that will have adverse effects on the health and lives of the people and order in the communities. These should include such drastic solutions as implementing a debt moratorium to channel funds to procure enough rice, to provide for rice price subsidy and lessen the burden of consumers, and increase NFA’s rice procurement from farmers with increased subsidy; prosecute and punish rice hoarders and syndicates.
5. Other imperatives that need immediate action include a policy to revert converted lands to agriculture, distributing idle lands to farmers for gain production, ending liberalization in agriculture, genuine land reform.
6. All policies, including fiscal, monetary trade and industrial policies, should be realigned towards the achievement of decent jobs for all.
7. Immediately end the policy of political killings and trade union harassment. We demand that perpetrators be brought to justice and the immediate improvement of the witness protection program. Ultimately, workers and trade union rights as guaranteed by the Constitution should be fully respected.
For failing to put primacy on policies and programs that will genuinely benefit our people and for entering into unequal agreements and for stifling legitimate demands and protests – the Arroyo government must go. And for Social Justice to reign, people should come together and join hand in hand not only to oust Arroyo but to change the entire social system.
We call on our fellow workers of the historic dictum: Workers of the world unite, we have nothing to loose but the chains of oppression!
Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa at Mamamayan para sa Pagkain, Trabaho, Katarungan at Kalyaan
Labor Centers: APL, BMP, CIU, KPMP, MAKABAYAN
Independent Labor Formations: AGLO, Liga Manggagawa, UFSW
Labor Alliance: LABOR
Peoples Organization: LnM and its allied political Org’n, Alliances and independent formations