In the Philippines, the daily minimum wage for laborers is set at only PhP491 (USD9.82), whereas a family of six needs at least PhP1088 per day in order to sustain a decent living. This does not include expenses for education and medical emergencies. The Philippine government, however, continues to fail in its responsibility to provide decent jobs with livable wages to its millions of workers. In fact, according to the government’s own studies, there are more than 6.6 million unemployed Filipinos in the country.
The 2017 May One rally was attended by almost 100,000 workers and labor rights advocates from all over the country. In Manila, 35,000 people filled the Liwasang Bonifacio and Mendiola in front of the presidential palace. This was one of the largest mobilizations of labor rights activists in recent memory, an indication of workers’ rising disenchantment with the government’s broken promises as well as the exploitation laborers continue to experience from the profit-oriented company owners.
12,000 workers and urban poor from the #OccupyPabahay in Pandi, Bulacan march to Welcome Rotonda in Quezon City before going to the historic Liwasang Bonifacio to meet up with the contingent from southern Manila.
Policemen line up to ensure that protesters do not occupy the whole avenue.
A policeman looks on as protesters line up for the march.
Rodrigo Duterte promised during his campaign to end the practice of contractualization, yet so far nothing substantial has been achieved.
A large vulture was created by activists to symbolize “imperialism” and neoliberal economic policies that hurt workers and
Women from farmer’s groups support the worker’s call for just wages and job security.
A worker reminds passersby of the HTI and Kentex factory fires, where dozens of workers were trapped inside burning factory buildings. In the case of HTI, over 1000 workers are still unaccounted for.
A Lumad youth dramatizes their struggle for land and indigenous rights as well as his experience as a plantation worker.
A young farmer dramatizes life as a worker in the Lapanday plantation.
A worker from the Lapanday foundation during a presentation. Despite official proclamations from the Department of Agrarian Reform, the Lorenzo family-owned Lapanday corporation has refused to return 149 hectares of land covered by agrarian reform to its rightful owners, many of whom now work as plantation workers.
A child of a worker looks on as workers line up to begin the march to Liwasang Bonifacio.
This child of a worker holds up a protest sign while, in his other hand, he holds bananas smeared with red paint to symbolize the violent tactics used by the plantation owners to prevent agrarian reform beneficiaries from reclaiming their lands.
A labor rights advocate wears a hat with the letters CASER, which stands for Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms, a main agenda of the peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). The CASER includes provisions that ensure workers’ rights such as job security, just wages and benefits and an end to contractualization.
Members of the LGBTQ community from Bahaghari show their support for workers’ rights.
Workers and urban poor are calling for a P750 national minimum wage which they say actually only meets the barest necessities of workers and their families. The current minimum wage is pegged at P491 but a family needs at least P1088 per day in order to sustain a ddecent lifestyle, according to Ibon Foundation.
Workers take inspiration from the worker-led October Revolution in Russia.
Women make up a large percentage of migrant workers forced to leace the country in order to find better work abroad with which to support their families. As migrants, however, many of them are exposed to human rights violations. Cases of murder and rape of Filipina overseas workers abound. Migrant workers’ associaitons in the country led by Migrante called for more jobs to be created in the Philippines so Filipinas will no longer have to leave the country and work abroad.
Rep. France Castro of ACT Teacher’s Party list joins the call for higher wages.
GABRIELA Women’s Party Representative Emmi De Jesus echoed the call for more protection for workers.
BAYAN Secretary General Renato Reyes joined workers in opposing continued implementation of neoliberal economic policies.
GABRIELA Women’s Party Representative Arlene Brosas raises her fist to end contractualization.
Anakpawis Partylist Representative Ayik Casilao joins the struggle of workers for a higher minimum wage.
Agrarian Reform Secretary Ka Paeng Mariano met up wioth the amrching workers to join the protest against contractualization and continued monopoly of land by a privileged few.
Gabriela secretary general Joan May Salvador and government employee union leader Ferdinand Gaite joined the workers call for greater state protection of workers.
NDFP peace consultant Alan Jazmines and Kabataan Partylist Representative Sarah Elago at the International Worker’s Day in the Philippines.
Children of workers gamely perform ass flag dancers in support of their parents’ call for higher wages and social services for the poor.
Motorcycle riders, many of them working as couriers and messengers for businesses, join the march as marshalls.
Photos by Mark Ambay III