2,500 workers and supporters mark 109th labor day commemoration in Calamba City

by Thrianne Gellido

May 1, 2012, Tuesday – In commemoration of the 109th International Labor Day, an estimated 2,500 people led by Pagkakaisa ng mga Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan-Kilusang Mayo Uno (PAMANTIK-KMU) together with its allied labor and transport groups, and other progressive organizations, staged a demonstration at Calamba City calling for better wages, the right to unionize and the improvement of working conditions.

“Great proletarian leaders”
Salubungan @ Crossing, Calamba
photo by Jeson Bureros

The protesters from Laguna, Batangas, and Cavite among others marched all the way from different assembly areas and converged at Crossing, Calamba where the program was held. Pictures of Karl Marx, Mao Zedong, Vladimir Lenin, Friedrich Engels, and Joseph Stalin- the five great proletarian leaders, were paraded and placed at the stage. More than 350 workers riding in motorcycles also highlighted the march to Calamba.

350 workers in motorcycles highlight march to Calamaba City
March to Crossing
Main Wing @ Parian, Calamba
photo by Uplb Zoom Out

In his speech, PAMANTIK-KMU spokesperson, Herminiano Marasigan shared the beginnings of May Day, emphasizing the importance of joined labor force in its history and how workers all over the world continue to celebrate this day.

One of the main concerns of the celebration is the unceasing call for the Php 125 across the board wage increase that President Aquino still refuses to grant. Speakers from different groups stressed the need of the wage increase because of the continuing rise of prices of commodities and services.

Glen Malabanan, Secretary General of human rights group KARAPATAN-ST, said that one of the major human rights violations that workers experience is the repression on organizing and forming unions. She even pointed out the killing of Diosdado “Ka Fort” Fortuna and Celito Baccay as an example of human rights violations against workers.

Gabriela-ST Secretary General Rona Jane Manalo, spoke of discriminations that women workers are still experiencing today. “The government do not see the true capabilities of women workers and their possible contributions in the labor force,” she added.

The celebration in Calamba City was joined by different labor groups such as Alyansa ng Manggagawa sa Probinsya at Industriya sa Laguna (ALMAPILA), Alyansa ng Manggagawa sa Enklabo (AMEN), Garments and Textiles Labor Alliance (GATELA) and Kaisahan ng mga Manggagawang Iligal na Tinanggal (KAMIT) among others.

Upon the end of the program, a letter from the Revolutionary Council of Trade Unions (RCTU), was read to the audience. It spoke of the lives and contributions to the people’s struggle of Rechel Tanteo, a garments worker who joined the New People’s Army. She and boyfriend Rodel Peñamante, were killed in an encounter with the military last April 20.

Cultural groups Kulturang Ugnayan ng Makabayang Sining Anakpawis (KUMASA) and Southern Tagalog Cultural Network (STCN) as well as The Axel Pinpin Propaganda Machine, staged performances that kept the crowd lively and upbeat despite the rain that came later that day.

With the theme “Labanan ang tumitinding epekto ng krisis ng imperyalistang globalisasyon sa manggagawa at mamamayang Pilipino. Ipagtanggol at isulong ang pakikibaka para sa kabuhayan at katarungang panlipunan” the workers of Southern Tagalog vowed to continue their fight for their rights and to never waver in asserting their calls for better wages, better working conditions and better employment situation.

Allied organizations of PAMANTIK-KMU also held simultaneous demonstrations in Cavite, Rizal and other provinces of the Southern Tagalog region. According to Marasigan, an estimated total of 6,000 workers and supporters, including those in Calamba City, participated in the May 1 celebration all over the region.

Program @ Crossing, Calamba
photo by Thrianne Gellido

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