“Damang-dama namin ang kawalan ng kaunlaran!”

Today, hundreds of workers from various labor organizations, including members of the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), banded together to protest the worsening plight of the working class. The protesters gathered in Welcome Rotonda this morning to unveil the true state of the working class and to denounce the government’s recalcitrant attitude to sustain its market-oriented policies.

“Massive unemployment, skyrocketing oil and food prices, repressive taxation, left and right demolition of informal settlers’ housing, and the continuing trade union repression and political killings… this is the real state of the working class, not the delusional claims that the moribund Arroyo regime would once again make during the SONA,” Edwin Bustillos, APL Deputy Secretary General, said.

“Damang-dama namin ang kawalan ng kaunlaran, ang kawalan ng pag-asenso,” Bustillos added, parodying government’s infomercials that features supposedly ordinary workers extolling the improvements in their lives.

Wrong policies, particularly government’s decades-long flirtation with market policies, are responsible for the sorry state of the workers. The country’s accession to the WTO, government’s blind faith in trade liberalization, the privatization of government enterprises, the attrition of public sector workers, and its dependence on labor migration as the causes of the jobs crisis.

Meanwhile, oil deregulation has left the people vulnerable to the profiteering of oil companies. It has been reported that Shell’s net profit rose 54 per cent from 2006, from P4.12 billion to P6.36 billion while Petron’s net profits rose 6.3 per cent, from P6.02 billion to P6.4 billion.

“Government has been consistently violating our right to development. This is one of the many crimes that this government has committed,” Bustillos added.

Today’s action kicks-off workers’ protest actions for Monday’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).

“These unprecedented set of crises has paved the way for unprecedented solidarity among workers’ organizations,” Bustillos said. “Henceforth, we will fight together to push this government to act on the people’s demands for jobs, food, housing and workers’ rights,” Bustillos added.

On Monday, in time for the President’s SONA, the Caucus of Labor Organizations (CLO) will march to Batasan with thousands of its members to demand for decent work for all, living wage, regulation of the oil industry, price control on food, removal of EVAT for oil and food products, and moratorium on demolitions. Bustillos explained that the CLO is composed of unions and labor organizations under SULONG and LABOR.

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