Activists, militant groups in Cebu City cry for wage increase, abolition of contractualization, protection of women vs. abuse

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ACTIVISTS from labor and militant groups have called for an increase in minimum wage in Central Visayas, abolition of labor contractualization that has spawned short-term employment in the country, and the protection of women against sexual abuse in workplaces.

Members of the Alyansa sa mga Mamumuo sa Sugbo-Kilusang Mayo Uno (AMA Sugbo-KMU), Gabriela Women’s Party and other Cebu-based labor groups made the call during their protest rally on Colon St. on Sunday, May 1, 2022.

Jaime Paglinawan, head of AMA Sugbo-KMU and lead organizer of the event, said there is a need to increase the workers’ daily minimum wage in Central Visayas from P404 to P750 as the current minimum wage in the region is not enough to sustain the needs of their families, considering that there are deductions -- such as government-mandated contributions -- that would further reduce their take-home pay.

The militant leader said they had already endorsed a wage hike petition to the Philippine Congress and supported the petitions for wage increases filed before the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board.

Meanwhile, Paglinawan said he hopes that the next administration would finalize and legislate the Security of Tenure Bill, which aims to end all forms of contractualization among workers and provide them enough freedom to establish labor unions or pro-workers associations that could set up a collective bargaining agreement with their employers.

“Because of contractualization, most of our laborers could not support their families now. They are losing their dignity. Some could not even send their children to school and buy medicines for themselves when sick. We must remember the workers are running the economy,” he said in Cebuano.

On the other hand, Hannah Cartagena, coordinator for Gabriela Women’s Party Cebu Chapter, has called for equal rights and protection among women workers.

Cartagena said the increasing number of women being sexually abused at work is alarming and must be addressed accordingly by the next government by providing them equal treatment in their workplaces.

“Many women workers nowadays feel inferior and are living in fear because sexual abuse cases are rampant in workplaces. We call for solidarity among workers,” said Cartagena.

Cartagena and Paglinawan then urged all Filipino voters, particularly laborers, to be wise in choosing their candidates and make sure that the politicians understand the needs of the Filipino people, specifically the working sector.

The first Labor Day celebration in the Philippines was observed when thousands of workers demanded fair work conditions from the American-led government on May 1, 1903.

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