Today marks the National Day of Protest for the newly-formed labor center, Sentro ng Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO), as their members from the different industries, youth, women and urban poor sectors staged mass actions in different areas of the National Capital Region, Cebu, Davao, General Santos City, Cotabato City, and Cagayan de Oro City.
In Manila, members of SENTRO simultaneously gathered in Welcome Rotonda and the Department of Labor and Employment office before they converged in Mendiola.
Union members from the hotel and restaurant industry, beverage, metal and automotive industry, broadcast media network, transport, energy, postal, banking and the public sector staged a picket protest in Welcome Rotonda to denounce the rampant use of contractual and other forms of precarious work. To address the worsening plight of precarious workers, the protesters called for the enactment of the Security of Tenure bill that is pending in Congress.
The protesters also added their voices to the growing clamor for wage recovery while reiterating their demand for reforms in the wage setting mechanism.
At the same time, members of the APL Youth-Sentro, trooped to the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) office in Intramuros donned in their graduation togas to demand guaranteed jobs for the youth. The youth activists asserted that such a program would go a long way in addressing the youth unemployment, which comprises more than one-half of all the unemployed.
Meanwhile, members of the Kapatiran ng Maralitang Obrero (KAMAO-SENTRO), a national confederation of urban poor organizations, rallied in Mendiola to press for the issuance of an executive order calling for a moratorium on demolition. KAMAO leaders condemned the several violent demolitions that have occurred under the Aquino administration.
Converging in Mendiola, the SENTRO leaders reminded President Benigno Aquino III that it is in his power to implement practical solutions that would lower the cost of electricity and oil prices. Among these are: stop the indexation of the prices of natural gas to international prices of oil and pegging the prices of geothermal steam to the international prices of coal; correct the implementation of ERC’s performance-based rate (PBR) methodology so power firms will not be able to increase rates in anticipation of future expansion and other capital expenditures; and, reform the ERC and insulate it against regulatory capture.
“After ten years, it is clear that the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) miserably failed. EPIRA should be rescinded,” Fatima Cabanag, secretary general of Kapatiran ng Maralitang Obrero (KAMAO), added.
As the labor movement gears up for their actions towards May 1 in celebration of the International Labor Day, SENTRO was formed by harnessing the strength of at least 80,000 workers covering major industry and sectoral unions in the country.
According to the group’s statement released to the media, the formation of SENTRO is a breakthrough that promises to help rejuvenate the labor movement through industry and sectoral unionism and by consciously working for broader unities at a time when trade unions are weakened by internecine fights, contractualization and the repressive labor environment.
“This is the first time that a labor center is formed covering the different industry unions from the hotel and restaurant industry, beverage, metal workers, automotive industry, broadcast media network, transport, energy, postal, banking and the public sector. It also includes national sectoral groups in the informal sector and urban poor, youth and women,” said Daniel L. Edralin, chair of the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL).
Despite insurmountable evidence that neo-liberal policies have failed, the Aquino government continues to implement the same market-oriented policies that has led to a widening gap between the rich and the poor. SENTRO vows to work in the broad labor movement and other social movements to end this failed economic paradigm.
SENTRO also said it is deeply committed to work with other major labor groups in forming a broad labor unity that would equal the record of the great Crisanto Evangelista when he founded the Congreso Obrero de Filipinas together with Herminigildo Cruz in 1913 to unite the labor movement.
SENTRO is composed of: Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL)– APL Youth –Automotive Industry Workers’ Alliance (AIWA)–Federation of Coca-Cola Unions (FCCU) — Kapatiran ng Maralitang Obrero (KAMAO)– League of Independent Bank Organizations (LIBO)– MARINO– National Alliance of Broadcast Unions (NABU)– National Confederation of Transportworkers Union (NCTU)– National Union of Workers in Hotel, Restaurant and Allied Industries (NUWHRAIN)– Philippine Independent Public Sector Employees Association (PIPSEA)– Philippine Metalworkers’ Alliance (PMA)– Pinag-isang Tinig at Lakas ng Anak-Pawis (PIGLAS)– PKI Employees Welfare Union (PEWU)– Postal Employees Union of the Philippines (PEUP)–Workers’ Solidarity Network (WSN)