Workers cry for aid, better protection
Published on: Monday, May 03, 2021
By: Philstar
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Healthcare workers in the Philippines also suffer from low wages forcing many to work abroad (EPA)
MANILA: Workers from various organizations and unions staged simultaneous Labour Day protests yesterday to demand protection against the Covid-19 pandemic and aid amid the recession.

Rallying workers marched to Mendiola in Manila, in contrast to last year’s Labor Day protest action which was done virtually due to the pandemic lockdown.

National Confederation of Labour (NCL) chairman Ernesto Arellano said Filipino workers are “being attacked on all sides,” citing how their “livelihoods are being destroyed and wages depressed by employers taking advantage of the pandemic to increase their profit margins.”

Arellano noted that the workers’ right to security of tenure and freedom of association are “being suppressed by union-busting capitalists in tandem with state agents.”

At the same time, he complained that the Duterte administration is not providing enough “ayuda” or financial aid to the millions of workers suffering under the weight of the health crisis.

Buklurang Manggagawang Pilipino president Luke Espiritu also said that until now, the government has yet to implement an “effective policy that can curb the swelling number of mass lay-offs.”

He said the government must stop mass lay-offs which have left some 4.2 million Filipinos without income.

Socialista president Eding Villasin said “so many workers have yet to receive Special Amelioration Program assistance while the funds have already dried up.”

He said the aid being distributed is “simply not enough for the survival of working families, especially as prices of basic goods continue to soar.”

Amid the protests, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary-general Renato Reyes accused police of hijacking their march to Liwasang Bonifacio.

“The current Covid-19 crisis necessitates the holding of a physical mobilization, even if only for just one hour, to raise high the call for economic aid during the pandemic,” said Reyes as he lamented how they were prevented from gathering at the designated freedom park.

“Instead of repressive tactics, the regime should listen to the people’s demands. The problem is Covid and the wrong policies of government, not the peaceful protest actions,” he said. 


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