EDSA spirit needed for labor rights — NGO

February 25, 2024

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR), an NGO that strives to empower Filipino workers in the formal and informal sectors of the economy, unites with the Filipino workers and people in celebrating the 38th anniversary of the Edsa “People Power” revolt.

Filipino workers played an important part in the Edsa uprising. Through their strikes in the mid-1970s, they shattered the silence imposed by Martial Law. Through their unionization, strikes, and protests, they served as the backbone of the protests that led to February 1986 and of the uprising itself.

Because of their contribution to the anti-dictatorship struggle, and the continuing strength of their unions at the time, Filipino workers were able to compel the Cory Aquino government to enshrine their rights in the 1987 Constitution: humane conditions of work, the right to a living wage, security of tenure, self-organization, collective bargaining, strike among others.

All these display the spirit of Edsa: broad unity among workers and the Filipino people, and perseverance in collective action, despite severe repression — all for the objective of advancing democracy and human rights, including and especially labor rights.

Today, we need the spirit of Edsa. Filipino workers receive wages that cannot provide their families with a decent standard of living. They are mostly contractual, who can be removed from work anytime, especially when they unionize. Workers are retrenched en masse when they try to form unions.

Today, the Ferdinand Marcos Jr government is working to change the 1987 Constitution. Its declared objective — that of amending economic provisions to attract more foreign investments — has been proven to be anti-worker. It entails offering cheap and repressed labor. It may also mean removing the Constitution’s robust labor rights provisions.

Today, we need the spirit of Edsa in at least two prominent issues. First, the P100 wage hike that was approved in the Senate and still needs House of Reprentatives’ approval will advance workers’ right to a living wage. Second, the campaign to junk Cha-cha will uphold workers’ rights by preserving nationalist economic and labor rights provisions.

We are calling on workers and all Filipinos to exercise their right to self-organization by forming unions and other organizations. We are calling on them to collectively struggle for these rights. The spirit of Edsa has shown that democracy and labor and human rights are not given to workers and the people on a silver platter, but require the arduous struggle of claiming and exercising them.###