BY ADRIAN P. NEMES III
More than 700 laborers under the Church People Workers Coalition marched at the main thoroughfares of Bacolod City Saturday to press their demands on the occasion of International Labor Day.
Among their demands were the distribution of P10,000 in cash assistance for those who are unemployed and underemployed, P100 daily wage subsidy for private employees, and P15,000 agricultural subsidy for farm workers.
The laborers, carrying their placards and streamers, held a short program at the Bacolod Public Plaza where they also decried the attacks on trade unionists and mass leaders, especially in Negros.
They said in a statement that workers are suffering from the unprecedented economic and health crisis which they never experienced before.
In the fourth quarter of 2020, the Philippine economy had continued to plunge with 9.5 percent contraction rate, the worst since 1947, and the price of basic goods also increased rapidly lately, they said.
Labor representative Wennie Sancho said the labor sector is urging the government to reevaluate its economic policies to generate jobs rather than social restrictions that would result to economic dislocation.
Sancho said that amid the pandemic, many workers face massive unemployment and unequal distribution of wealth with no safety nets.
In Western Visayas alone, Philippine Statistics Authority records show that from January 2020 to January this year, there was an increase in unemployment, from 5.6 percent to 9.1 percent, he said.
This involved 312,900 unemployed individuals while 659,493 others were underemployed, or working outside their field, Sancho also said.
The General Alliance of Workers Associations, meanwhile, said the suffering of the working masses from joblessness due to economic recession is fast reaching the depth of human endurance which cannot be appeased by the promises of future reforms. They said that the government’s display of indifference towards the suffering of the masses, especially of the working class, would usher in a state of economic dislocation and poverty.*