Labor groups Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) Metro Manila, Alyansa ng mga Manggagawa Laban sa Kontraktwalisasyon (ALMAKON), Defend Job Philippines and the Church People-Workers’ Solidarity (CWS) held a memorial program today for the victims of the recent fire at the Waterfront Manila Pavilion Hotel and Casino along United Nations Avenue in Manila.
Dubbed as ‘Kalbaryo ng Manggagawa,” workers offered flowers and prayers for the victims of the fire in the said establishment last Sunday, March 18, that killed at least 5 and injured more than 24 hotel workers and guests.
They held their program in time for the renewed deadline of President Dutere to issue an Executive Order (EO) against contractualization today.
Workers’ groups also called for justice for all the victims of ‘senseless deaths’ due to hazardous and unsafe workplaces.
According to them, “heads must roll” and that accountability from the government must be served to the victims and their families in the soonest possible time. They even urged the Duterte administration and the Labor Department to immediately conduct an impartial and transparent probe on the incident.
Aside from being contractual employees, the group also pointed out that under Duterte, our workers continue to carry their ‘crucifix’—the burden of contractualization, low wages and unsafe workplaces. They associated these ‘triple whammy’ as the ‘Filipino worker’s daily Calvary.’
Maristel Garcia, spokesperson of ALMAKON said, “Our working people have already been dying not just of tragedies inside their places of work but with policies of contractualization and cheap labor. Our workers have been victimized not once nor twice by present and past administrations, but thrice.”
The group also cited that the Manila Pavilion tragedy is not the only case of the lacking of the government efforts and measure to ensure occupational health and safety of Filipino workers inside their workspaces.
On May 2015, more than 70 workers were killed in the Kentex slipper factory fire in Valenzuela City. Dozens of HTI factory workers died in General Trias, Cavite last February 1, 2017. More than 40 employees died in a fire in a call center company at the NCCC Mall in Davao City last December 23, 2017.
“As President Duterte keeps on frustrating and disregarding the long-drawn demand of our workers for an end to contractualization and eating up his own words that he will issue an EO that will end endo, our working force remains to suffer the brunt of inhumane and dangerous working conditions for a very long time,” said Ed Cubelo, KMU Metro Manila chairperson.
Lent-themed ‘Kalbaryo’ protest set
Meanwhile, Cubelo announced that President Duterte must brace himself for series of massive street protests of workers nationwide in the coming days if his administration will remain heedless to the appeal and calls of their sector.
He said that the annual Lent-themed protest, “Kalbaryo ng Mamamayan” would be held on Friday, March 23, days before the start of the Holy Week. Workers and other sectors would march to Plaza Miranda to call for an end to poverty and state terrorism.
The “Kalbaryo ng Mamamayan” would hold an ecumenical liturgy by 1:00 PM and a program in Plaza Miranda before the procession of a modern-day Jesus Christ carrying a cross-with various issues printed on it.
After the Kalbaryo, labor groups said that they would be marking the upcoming International Labor Day with another big protest against contractualization and other workers and people’s issues.