By Chito Chavez
Various militant and well- organized labor groups have joined the battlefield of politics, claiming that their own senatorial slate would plug loopholes in anti-worker and anti-people legislation should their bets make it to the Senate.
Calling their slate “Labor Win’’, the labor groups fielding senatorial candidates for the May 2019 mid-term elections included the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), Federation of Free Workers, the Bayan-Kilusang Mayo Uno (Bayan-KMU) bloc and the National Confederation of Labor (NCL).
LABOR WIN candidates have gained the endorsement of PAGGAWA labor coalition and the Church Labor Conference (CLC).
The Labor Win alliance, in a recent proclamation rally, presented their candidates before thousands in Plaza Miranda that was preceded by a motorcade from Monumento in Caloocan City to Quiapo in Manila with a stop-over at the Sumifru workers’ camp in Liwasang Bonifacio.
Lawyer Ernie Arellano of the National Confederation of Labor (NCL) said, “The workers do not become a force for social change because they are not voting as a class in the periodic and common political exercise, which is no other than the elections. They troop to voting precincts as separate individual voters not based on a collective will and a common platform to advance their interest”.
Lawyer Allan Montaño of Federation of Free Workers (FFW) agreed by emphasizing that the platform of the Labor Win alliance is a “fighting platform” that seeks to unite the workers in fighting for the interests of the toiling and impoverished majority.
The platform includes the demands for decent work for all; a national minimum wage; regular jobs; increased budget for social service such as housing, education, and healthcare; industrialization of the local economy; price control; OFW defense; unemployment insurance; and the opposition against the neoliberal and pro-dynasty charter change.
Lawyer Sonny Matula cited the experience by the labor movement in advanced countries where the workers’ struggle extended to the parliamentary arena by the formation and the eventual electoral victory of labor-based political parties.
Both Montaño and Matula have been Philippine representatives to various international bodies, including the International Labor Organization (ILO) where they had the opportunity to engage with parliamentarians from ruling labor parties.
Former Bayan Muna representative Neri Colmenares added, “The unity forged in Labor Win is the logical next step in the struggle against contractualization that has stepped up since the Duterte administration reneged on his promise to end contractualization. Malacanang is pointing us to shift to legislative engagements because it does not want to sign an Executive Order to prohibit contractualization. Yet, Congress is dilly-dallying. Hence, the imperative is for labor to win seats in the Senate to secure its voice in its august chambers”.
BMP leader and former factory worker Leody de Guzman concluded, “Anti-labor practice is a by-product of the rotten system of elite rule, where the so-called representatives in government adhere to capitalist interests. Labor leaders may not have the finesse of seasoned politicians but we have decades of experience in supporting day-to-day workers’ struggles. We know how employers use legal loopholes to legalize their exploitation and abuse against workers’ rights and welfare. It is this knowledge that equips us to represent the labor sector in the parliamentary arena to become the champions of the workers and the poor inside the elite-dominated legislature”. #MatalinongBoto2019