Activists marched in the streets of the Philippine capital Manila on Sunday, Labor Day, to pay tribute to the country’s workers.
The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines called for “safe and secure jobs” with the impending re-opening and full recovery of the economy after the pandemic.
“The reopening must not be at the workers’ expense,” said the group in a statement, adding that minimum wages in all regions must be increased significantly above the existing regional poverty thresholds.
Workers under the banner of the militant labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno officially endorsed the candidacy of Vice President Leni Robredo and Senator Kiko Pangilinan in an event in Quezon City.
The group said only the Robredo-Pangilinan tandem has “the most viable plans and programs” for workers, specifically wage increase, security of tenure, jobs creation, and respect for labor rights.
Human rights group Karapatan cited workers all over the world for their “vital contributions” to society and their role as “shapers of history.”
“This day is also an annual reminder that the struggle of workers for rights and dignity is far from over,” said the group in a statement.
“As the country continues to grapple with the crisis brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, we assert the calls for justice for Filipino workers,” added Karapatan.
The human rights group said that May 1 “is not simply a date nor a holiday,” adding that it commemorates the “laborious and hard-earned rights that the workers of the world have struggled for in centuries.”
“We are all challenged to hold on and fight for these victories together with the Filipino workers and the rest of the people as we advance the struggle for people’s rights and the resistance to tyranny and fascism in the upcoming elections and beyond,” said Karapatan.
For his part, President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to continue giving Filipino workers “opportunities” needed to reach their full potential.
“This administration, even if it is coming nearly to a close, shall remain committed to providing the people with the opportunities they need to realize their full potential,” said Duterte.
The president lauded Filipino workers for being known worldwide for their “great passion, integrity and professionalism” they demonstrate in everything that they do.
“These qualities have not only brought economic gains to our country, but have also been a source of immense pride and encouragement among our people,” he added.
Labor Day, he said, gives the nation a chance to celebrate all the triumphs and progress that the labor movement has accomplished over the years.
However, he also acknowledged the need to swiftly address the challenges faced by the labor market.
“We are likewise reminded to overcome the challenges by recognizing the rights of our workers and reassessing the systems that may hinder their growth and development,” he added. – with a report from the Philippine News Agency