Solidarity of Cavite Workers (SCW) led the 500-strong marching workers unions and sectoral organizations on the 122nd International Labor Day at 8:30 in the morning on May 1 to rally behind this year’s theme to unite and fight against poverty and repression of rights.

“The May One commemorative rally this year is very significant to us. This is the first Labor Day celebration of the Aquino Administration and this is also the first time that unionized workers were able to march inside the economic zone since the violent dispersal of the Kaisahan ng mga Manggagawa sa Phils Jeon Garments Inc.-Independent (KMPJI) and Nagkakaisang Manggagawa ng Chong Won Fashions Inc.-Independent (NMCWI) picket lines in 2006 and 2007 respectively,” Merly Grafe, SCW Chairperson said in a phone interview who at the time was in South Korea campaigning justice for workers of KMPJI.

Daeduck Employees Union-Independent (DEU-Ind) marched their way from their production plant to the CEZ main gate to join the Labor Day protest action only after workers brushed aside metal barricades and Jantro security guards.

“We, unionists from DEU have made Daeduck Philippines management to understand today that we are neither fools nor ignorant and dumb and born with a sound judgment. We hope that all workers in CEZ would realize our right to freedom of association in forming unions which is the only effective tool to achieve higher wages and deter repression from the management,” said Syrel Canites in the program, DEU-Ind Board Member.

DEU-Ind was formed in August 4, 2005 under the Federation of Union of Rizal-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (FUR-TUCP) but disaffiliated on February 22, 2011 after irregularities in the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) facilitated by FUR-TUCP.

On the other hand, Nolan Maquincio Public Relations Officer of Nagkakaisang Manggagawa ng Hoffen Industries (NMHI-OLALIA-KMU), a failed victim of extra-judicial killing under the Aquino Administration called for workers to organize unions inside their plants to effectively promote their rights against exploitation and repression.

“I, myself is a victim of trade union repression. Someone tried to kill me on the 22nd of November last year. I am calling on workers to unite and be brave to stand against repression,” Maquincio asserted firmly.

He further claimed that workers cannot expect anything more from the Aquino Administration with the rotten system of contractualization, low wages, and trade union repression being in effect.

The protesters marched to disperse after the program lasted for two and a half hours under the scorching heat. A delegation of 50 workers pushed their way to join the Regional mobilization in Calamba, Laguna by 1:00 in the afternoon.

Meanwhile, a coordinated protest actions were held in Districts 2 and 3 of Batangas led by Batangas Labor Solidarity (BLAST). Protest actions were simultaneously held at Sto. Tomas and Batangas City where workers demanded for the enactment of House Bills 374 and 375.

“The enactment of the said House Bills No. 374 and 375 would ensure private and public sector workers of a substantial wage increase across the nation,” said Reiner Rolle, BLAST Secretary General.

Rolle further said that the wage increase is timely especially at the time that price increases on oil prices, basic commodities, and fares remain unabated.

Mobilizations from both districts then merged in Lipa City market where they held their main program. Batangas workers focused on issues for a living wage, secured jobs, and resistance against trade union repression and political persecution. Estimates of 500 workers with support from organizations in other sectors were mobilized in Batangas. 200 of which came from
Kaisahan ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Tubuhan (KAISAHAN), an organization of sugarcane farm workers, and held a separate protest action in Balayan market at 1:00 in the aftfernoon.

Rolle asserted, “No matter how viscous is the attack they direct to the workers and the people up to the extent that they kill our leaders across the province, they can never stop the working class in advancing the fight for the democratic rights as to what history has foretold.”

On the other hand, Samahan ng Manggagawa sa EMI-Yazaki (SM-EMI) gathered 300 of its members in front of the company gates in Anabu, Imus where they held their demonstration.

“Let this May One [protest actions] be a fair warning for Mr. Aquino that soon he will earn rejection if his apathy to workers rights and welfare continue. We are calling on all workers to unite and confront poverty and human rights violations and repression in forming genuine workers unions and organizations in tens and folds! Only through this would challenge the government’s attitude of perpetual callousness towards the working class,” Grafe firmly said in conclusion.