Workers belonging to the Kowalisyon Kontra Kontraktwalisasyon (KONTRA) today marched to Mendiola to mark the anniversary of the signing of Proclamation 1081 that imposed Martial Law 37 years ago and to reaffirm their vows to never again let the country slip into darkness.
The people should never forget that the Martial Law plunged the country into a 14-year nightmare – a conjugal dictatorship, the suppression of all democratic rights and civil liberties, the imprisonment of some 50,000 Filipinos, and the torture, murder and disappearance of thousands, many of them trade union leaders, women, peasants and students.
At the same time, Martial Law and the EDSA Revolution should remind everyone that only through solidarity could tyranny be defeated.
Today, 23 years after the downfall of Marcos Dictatorship, the working class continues to suffer from the tyranny of economic injustice and political marginalization.
Despite modest economic growth these past few years, the gap between the rich and the poor continue to widen as workers’ share in the country’s income shrinks. Chronic unemployment, massive underemployment and the rampant use of contractual labor have condemned wide swatches of the population to live below the poverty line.
Meanwhile, the elites have once again proven their inability to govern democratically as the working people are marginalized from any meaningful participation in decision-making.
In all these years, workers are kept poor and powerless by a repressive labor relations system imposed by an anachronistic Labor Code that was imposed by the Marcos dictatorship in 1974 not so much to guarantee workers’ rights but to circumscribe it.
Thus, workers once again find themselves persecuted whenever they exercise their constitutional rights to organize, collectively bargain and to strike. The truth is, these fundamental rights are rendered meaningless by the litigious nature of labor relations and the breakdown of the country’s legal system. At the same time, many workers, especially those in the public sector, are still denied their right to collectively bargain and to strike.
To make matters worse, a dirty war is being waged in this country. Some factories and whole communities are being militarized as part of a counter insurgency campaign. Trade unionists are being labeled ‘terrorists’ when in fact they are the victims of ‘state terrorism’. They are being hunted down, forcing the victims and their families to live in fear.
Indeed, Martial Law is alive and well in the labor front!
It is no surprise then that there are only 226,000 workers covered by collective bargaining agreements!
It is in this light that KONTRA is renewing its commitment to defend and advance real democracy in the country.
KONTRA is the broadest labor coalition against contractualization. Participating in today’s rally are workers belonging to AGLO, APL, BMP, CIU, KPMP, MAKABAYAN, PM, PMA, and PSLINK.