Migrante staged a solidarity action today with PLDT strikers and other laid-off employees encamped at Mendiola to express strong support for workers’ rights. Labor problems ranging from contractualization, unjust wage levels, deplorable working conditions and the TRAIN Law were among the issues hurled by the group against the Duterte regime.
“In his two years in office, not only did Duterte renege from his promise to completely abolish endo or contractualization but he also inflicted additional catastrophe to all workers through the imposition of his pro-elite TRAIN Law,” said Arman Hernando, Migrante Philippines chairperson.
Hernando also pointed out that Duterte’s refusal to heed the demands of labor groups to abolish regional wage boards and introduce a national minimum wage amplifies the misery of workers since they can no longer withstand the impacts of inflation brought about by Duterte’s TRAIN. Economic experts revealed that the Philippines registered the fastest inflation rate in nearly a decade.
In a study conducted by Migrante last year, a 750-peso national minimum wage can significantly reverse the tide of forced migration among Filipino job seekers. OFWs who receive a basic salary of US$400-500 per month would prefer to work in the Philippines once their income becomes at par with the minimum pay they receive overseas. POEA data shows that 200,000 OFWs have been deployed annually since 2011 to occupations with salaries ranging from US$400 to 500 per month.
The group also asserted that since Duterte’s TRAIN Law was meant to support his “pro-elite and anti-poor Build, Build, Build program,” the perennial budget deficit would drive the government to heighten foreign borrowings and importations leading to trade imbalances and depletion of dollar reserves. To address this quandary, Hernando said that the Duterte regime will aggravate its labour export program so it can squeeze more remittances from overseas Filipino workers.
“Duterte should stop treating OFW and poor workers as milking cows to subsidize the private profit of contractors and lenders from the US and China through his abhorrent TRAIN law and Build, Build, Build program. Local and overseas workers must unite with the rest of the Filipino people this coming SONA to finally pronounce judgement against this dreadful Duterte regime,” Hernando concluded.