Labor Day 2023: Workers of the world unite and fight for our rights! Onward with our struggle against imperialist exploitation and oppression

Press Statement 
01 May 2023

The Filipino workers, migrants and people face many issues in marking International Workers’ Day 2023. Migrante-International calls on the Filipino workers, migrants and people to fight for our demands, and clamors that the powers that be, chiefly the Bongbong Marcos regime, heed our demands:

(1) A cost of living crisis is hitting the Philippines and the Global South, inflation is soaring, and the prices of basic goods and services are skyrocketting. According to think-tank Ibon Foundation, the March 2023 real wage in Metro Manila, supposedly the highest in the country, is the lowest in 12 years and even lower than 34 years ago. This is the first Labor Day under the Marcos regime, which has so far been silent on workers’ demands. 

In this light, we support calls for a significant wage increase as a form of immediate relief for Filipino workers suffering from high prices. Beyond this, the minimum wage should be brought closer to the Constitutionally-guaranteed right to a living wage. Regional wage boards should be abolished and a national minimum wage implemented. Contractualization, which continues to be widespread, should be abolished. Workers’ rights to unionize, collectively bargain and strike should be respected, and the State campaign to harass, intimidate, jail and kill unionists and labor activists should be stopped.

(2) The Marcos regime, through the newly-established Department of Migrant Workers, has been promising measures favorable to Filipino migrants, even as it has stepped up the implementation of its program on labor export.

We demand the realization of pro-migrant promises being made by the Marcos regime. Mary Jane Veloso, the Filipina victim of drug trafficking and in jail in Indonesia for 13 years now, should be set free and brought home to her family. The unpaid wages of the more than 10,000 Overseas Filipino Workers who were laid off from work in Saudi Arabia in 2015-2016 should be released to them. OFWs who were sent home because of the pandemic should finally receive a P10,000 financial assistance. Various forms of state exactions on migrant Filipinos should be stopped. Human traffickers should be punished, not their victims. We demand all these even as we call on the government to junk its labor export program and create decent jobs in the Philippines by developing the country’s industries and agriculture. 

(3) We mark this year’s International Labor Day in the aftermath of the biggest US military exercises in the Philippines and of the Marcos regime’s granting of more locations for US military bases in the country, and on the same day that Marcos is meeting US President Joe Biden in the White House to supposedly reaffirm the “special relationship” between the US and the Philippines. The context of course is intensifying superpower rivalry and tensions between the US and China especially in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Filipino labor and migrant movements both have a rich anti-imperialist and nationalist history. We call on the Philippine government to stand for national sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Philippines should not take sides in the US-China rivalry, and exhaust all peaceful means for asserting our territorial claims against China. The Philippine government’s shameful puppetry to the US endangers the Philippines and all countries in the Asia-Pacific region. US military troops and bases should be driven out of the country, and agreements justifying their presence should be abrogated. 

(4) Amidst the continuing implementation of neoliberal economic policies and the rise of authoritarian, if not fascist, political currents, the workers and migrants of the world face intensifying exploitation and oppression hand-in-hand with drives to divide them and pit them against each other. 

In this context, we oppose all measures that aim to intensify the exploitation and oppression of the workers and migrants of the world, including wage cuts, denial of social protection, and increasing precarization. We stand for worker-migrant labor solidarity, as divisions between workers and migrants can only continue, if not worsen, enslavement of both. Labor rights in migrant-receiving countries should be extended to all migrants, and labor unions and organizations should include and cover migrants. At the same time, the root causes of mass unemployment, poverty and migration in migrant-sending countries should be addressed. Migrant organizations should be strengthened. 

Filipino workers, migrants and people — unite! Workers of the world, unite!