2nd Labor Day under Marcos Jr.: Nothing for Workers

April 30, 2024

Press Statement
Labor Day 2024

2nd Labor Day under Marcos Jr: nothing but empty words for w0rkers

Today, Internaational Labor Day, we celebrate, and protest the devaluation of, the contributions of workers globally not just to the economy but to the world’s development as a whole.

We salute  and celebrate the contributions of Filipino workers to the country’s struggle for development, social justice and democracy. Though many  are denied their labor and human rights, as well as their fair share of the immense value that they create, they continue to society’s development.

Today is the second Labor Day under President Ferdinand Marcos Jr who apart from mouthing empty words has done nothing for the country’s workers.

Marcos Jr has done nothing to advance workers’ right to a living wage. The country’s senators and congressmen have deliberated on and approved bills for a significant minimum wage hike, but Marcos Jr has kept his deafening silence on the issue, even as his Labor Department has sided with employers in opposing the wage hike. The  cost of living crisis has  worsened and further eroded the real value of the minimum wage, yet Marcos Jr remains deaf and blind to workers’ calls to recoup the lost value of their wages.

Marcos Jr oversaw further attacks on workers’ right to freedom of association. Four (4) labor organizers have been killed and were not given justice, while 27 remain in detention facing fabricated charges. Though Marcos Jr allowed the International Labour Organization’s High-Level Tripartite Mission (ILO-HLTM) in 2023, and the mission of United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom Expression Irene Khan in 2024,  he has not carried out their recommendations. He has not abolished the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), notorious for its red-tagging spree, and instead increased its budget to carry.
This April, individuals introducing themselves as military personnel harassed Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU)-Southern Mindanao Region former secretary-general Carlo Olalo and workers Melodina Gumanoy and forced them to surrender as armed rebels. In March, posters and leaflets spread claiming that Nanay Cristy, vice-president of the Samahang Janitorial sa PUP spread in the PUP-Manila campus, is a member of the Communist movement, causing fear and anxiety to her and her colleagues.

This April, William Lariosa, a union organizer in the plantations of Bukidnon, was abducted by the military and remains missing to this day. On September 2023, KMU vice-chairperson for the Visayas Jaime Paglinawan received a court summon to face charges of “terrorist financing” filed against 27 individuals.

On the ground, workers are still being retrenched for building unions: In Laguna, electronics company Nexperia is planning to retrench more than 100 workers, including union leaders in the management’s efforts to weaken the workers’ union. In Pampanga, garments giant Luen Thai recently laid off thousands of workers after the workers sought to form a union.

Marcos Jr has also shielded his predecessor and ally Rodrigo Duterte from any accountability for numerous labor and human rights violations. Marcos Jr has not acted on the cases of 27 political detainees from the labor sector, most of whom were imprisoned under his predecessor.

Marcos Jr has done nothing to protect workers’ right to security of tenure. Contractualization remains widespread, is still spreading and continues to undermine many labor rights. Proposed bills protecting workers’ right to security of tenure are being conveniently forgotten under this government while Marcos Jr keeps talking about inviting foreign investors into the country.

Marcos Jr has done nothing to advance workers’ right to decent work. Ibon Foundation reports that unemployment, underemployment and low-quality work have further increased under Marcos Jr. Contrary to what it professes, the Department of Migrant Workers has encouraged labor export, further exposing the country’s workers to exploitation abroad and refusing to solve the country’s long-standing economic problems. So many mechanisms have been created to entice skilled Filipinos who are trying to escape unsafe, unhealthy, and low-paying jobs to go abroad to support themselves and their families.