Workers Greet Labor Day with Protest
The rally began with a march from Fuente Osmeña Circle to the intersection in front of Gaisano Metro Colon. Protesters held up banners, braving the sweltering heat. In the background, the protest leaders spearheading the march passionately broadcasted speeches to the demonstrators and bystanders. At the sidewalk, some protesters distributed pamphlets to bystanders watching the rally.
On the banners were messages that call for a P125 increase in minimum wage, removal of value-added tax (VAT) imposed on oil prices, abolishment of pork barrel, and statements referring to President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino as a “disaster president.” In the light of U.S President Obama’s recent visit to the Philippines, protesters referred to the Philippine government as “itoy-itoy” of the United States.
Among the protesters were workers of private companies, and members of trade and labor unions. Representatives of party-lists were also present in the demonstration. Students from different universities, such as the University of the Philippines, also joined the rally.
“We took this chance to express our demands,” said a call center agent and member of BPO Industry Employees’ Network (BIEN), an independent body of business process outsourcing (BPO) employees. “Unta tagaan niya ug tax break ang mga empleyado dinha sa BPO kay labi na abnormal kaayo kining klase na trabaho sa sama nato,” added the employee, describing the plights of call-center agents working in graveyard shifts.
Also present in the rally are members of the University of San Carlos – General Services Employees Union (USC-GSEU), a member of the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP).
When asked why they participated in the rally, the union’s local president Jovirito Contratista stated that it was in response to the university’s laying-off of around 60 workers in the General Services Department. According to Contratista, compensation was given to the said workers. “Gipang-offeran nila (union members)ug igo-igong kantidad pero harassman gud ang ilang pagpanangtang kay dinali-an bitaw kaayo – dili makahunahuna ug trabahante kung angay ba sila muundang,” mentioned he.
The demonstration culminated in the protesters’ final chants to bring down imperialism and feudalism in the Philippines, ultimately ending with “Noynoy Aquino, ibagsak!”