‘Chi-cha not cha-cha’ among Labor Day calls today

(DG file)

Demands for a salary hike and ayuda for the poor instead of changing the Constitution are among the workers’ issues to be highlighted in the nationwide protests tomorrow.

“We will endure the heat of marching under the sun because the burning issue of low wages and high prices is a priority concern. Chi-cha not cha-cha,” declared Mario Andon, spokesperson of the Iloilo chapter of the militant group Partido Manggagawa (PM), in reference to an urgent response to the economic crisis instead of politicians tinkering with charter change.

In Iloilo City, the coalition United Labor leads the march of some 1,500 workers at 2:30 pm to the Capitol grounds.

The unions at Pepsi, Coke, URC and Iloilo Doctors are among the participants together with contingents of truck drivers, jeepney drivers, construction workers and from the groups Courage and the Iloilo Grab Riders Union (IGRU). The IGRU is the first union established among Grab riders in the country.

“Sahod, Trabaho, Karapatan” is the theme of the nationwide protests. “We call for a P100 minimum wage hike to recover the lost purchasing power of workers. Also, we demand an end to endo and the return of regular employment as the norm. Finally, we ask the government to heed the recommendations of the International Labour Organization’s high-level tripartite mission on respecting labor rights,” Andon explained.

In Bacolod, some 3,000 workers are joining the United Labor of Negros rally at the city Public Plaza. Sugar workers will troop to Bacolod City for the Labor Day protest of the groups PM, KMU, NACUSIP, BMP, CAILO, BUNYOG and BACOD. Unrest is brewing among sugar workers due to the early onset of tiempo muerto (dead season) as a result of the sugar crisis.

In the National Capital Region, PM members will assemble at 7:00 am at the Petron Blumentritt along Espana in Manila before marching towards Mendiola. The main Labor Day mobilization in Manila is led by the coalition All Philippine Trade Unions which brings together the groups Nagkaisa, Trade Union Center of the Philippines, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP). Similar rallies are expected in the cities of Bacolod, Davao, Iligan, General Santos and Tagum.

In Metro Cebu, PM will assemble at the Plaza Independencia at 8:00 am before marching to Metro Gaisano in Colon for the joint rally of the coalition Sugbuanong Mamumuo Nagkahiusa Alang sa Living Wage (SANA AL). Some 1,000 workers are expected to march for the demand for wage hike and regular jobs. The highlight of the protest will be the hammering of a makeshift statue of Sen. Robin Padilla with a giant hammer (maso) to symbolize the workers’ fight against cha-cha.

In Iligan, the Federation of Democratic Labor Organizations (FDLO) will lead the Labor Day march to the city plaza. PM and other civil society organizations will join the FDLO rally.