Unions seek more pro-labor reforms, ‘living wage’

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LABOR groups have asked President Rodrigo R. Duterte to introduce reforms that improve working conditions and impose a “living wage” ahead of his State of the Nation Address (SONA).

The Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), Federation of Free Workers (FFW), Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), and SENTRO ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO), issued a joint statement seeking improved work conditions and pay ahead of the President’s fourth SONA on July 22.

“We, various labor centers, federations, workers’ associations and advocates, come together to demonstrate our strong resolve to advance the Filipino workers’ demands for a national minimum wage, regular work and respect for human and trade union rights,” the labor groups said in the statement on Tuesday.

The workers’ groups noted that Mr. Duterte has yet to fulfill his promise to end forms of contractualization that deny workers a path to permanent employment, known as “endo,” a promise made during the 2018 SONA and a campaign promise in 2016.

“We have long called for an end to contractualization of labor, yet the practice of labor-only contracting, job-only contracting and other forms of flexible labor remain prevalent. Contractualization will still persist even with the watered down Security of Tenure Bill (SB 1826) is enacted. We believe that unless the scourge of contractualization is eradicated, workers’ right to organize, collectively bargain and to strike will be undermined, and economic growth will never be inclusive,” they said.

They added: “We push for higher wages and further a national minimum wage towards a family living wage amid the rising cost of living. The call for an immediate wage hike is just and is needed to address the economic hardships of workers in different parts of the country.”

They also called for the abolition of the current wage-setting system, which is determined by regional wage boards. — Gillian M. Cortez