Message to Filipino workers on May 1

Communist Party of the Philippines
May 1, 2014


The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) extends its revolutionary greetings to the Filipino working class on the occasion of International Worker's Day. Let us pay our highest respects to the heroes of the working class movement in the Philippines, from Isabelo delos Reyes to Crisanto Evangelista, from Amado V. Hernandez to Ka Bert Olalia and Crispin Beltran. 
Let us fully appreciate the history of the Filipino working class struggles, the sacrifices and victories of previous generations of workers and the critical tasks that must be shouldered by the present generation of workers in order to defend their democratic rights and carry forward their democratic mass struggles amid relentless attacks and worsening exploitation by foreign big monopoly capitalists and their local partners. 
Let us firmly grasp the key role played by the Filipino workers in leading the Filipino people's national democratic revolution that seeks to end the oppressive and exploitative semicolonial and semifeudal system and pave the way for socialist revolution and construction. 
The urgent need to carry forward the national democratic revolution is underscored by the current situation of the Filipino working class. The oppression, exploitation and socio-economic conditions of the Filipino workers have rapidly worsened over the past three decades of neoliberalism and labor flexibilization policies. These have further sharply declined under the protracted and continuing global capitalist crisis since 2008.
Wage levels have constantly dropped relative to the constant and sharp increase in the cost of living. Minimum wages are presently set at less than half of the daily needs of a family of six to live decently. Minimum wage laws have been undermined by the regionalization of minimum wages since the late 1980s and outrightly contradicted by the Two-Tier Wage Policy of the Aquino regime which sets grossly low "floor wages" (based on government underestimations of poverty levels) as bases for setting wages. The latest proposal to come out of the Aquino bureaucracy is to completely abolish the minimum wage law by making its implementation optional.
The democratic rights of workers have been constantly attacked by the labor-flexibilization policies of the past three decades. Security of tenure, a fundamental right won by workers through arduous struggles throughout the 20th century, has been taken away by various policies, laws and practices in the name of "flexibile employment schemes." The practice of labor contractualization was set forth in RA 6715 or the Herrera Law which amended the Labor Code in 1989. 
The most prevalent and oppressive of these is the practice of different forms of "labor-only contracting" where workers have become permanent contractuals, ever threatened with removal. Job contracts last typically five months or less. Young workers are especially vulnerable to ever worsening forms of "flexible" employment where they are subjected to the most inhumane conditions at the workplace. These include arrangements between training schools and companies where students are required to work for little or no  pay for months on end. In certain schools, students are even required to pay for their "training" in factories, hotels, hospitals and other workplaces.
After three decades, close to 100% of rank-and-file workers are contractuals. Rank and file workers who remain regular workers through sheer resistance are still threatened with removal from their jobs through forced retirement, job redundancy and other means. 
With their right to unionize rights relentlessly attacked, it is estimated that the number of workers belonging to unions has dropped to less than 5% from 15% in the 1980s. Key union leaders have been targeted for retrenchment. Not a few have been killed or subjected to criminal prosecution. Indirectly, the right to unionize has been effectively curtailed through the contractualization of labor. Labor contracts bar workers from joining unions and from carrying out collective action.
The significant losses in terms of organized labor strength has made the Filipino workers ever more vulnerable to worsening forms of oppression and exploitation, with their socio-economic conditions and state of democratic rights at their lowest compared to the past century. 
The attacks against the Filipino workers are set to further intensify in the next years as the crisis of the global capitalist system continues to worsen. Goaded by the American Chamber of Commerce, the IMF and foreign banks, the Aquino regime plans to put into place policies to further pull down wages in competition with China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia and other countries where workers' wages are kept low to "attract foreign investments" in assembly plants. 
At the same time, the Aquino regime has perpetuated the policy of exporting labor. To serve this purpose, Aquino has stepped up efforts to expand the government "training school" and transform the entire educational system to churn out young workers for the labor-export market. Young students are being trained as barristas, masseurs, welders, cooks, bakers, nurses and caregivers, not to serve the development of the domestic economy, but rather, to deploy them to the US, the Middle East and other countries. Aquino's only palpable solution to the widespread problem of unemployment is no different from the solutions of the regimes of the past 30 years. 
There is an urgent need to counter the neoliberal attacks against the Filipino workers and advance their aspirations for higher wages, better working conditions and job security. The national democratic labor movement in the Philippines must persevere in arousing, organizing and mobilizing the Filipino workers and their families. 
Worker activists must tirelessly engage in propaganda and education work in order to rouse the workers and militate them to wage collective action. They must ceaselessly expose the evils of neoliberalism and flexible labor. They must help the the young generation of workers study the history of the working class movement in the Philippines and learn its lessons in order to guide their current mass struggles to advance their democratic aspirations. They must shatter the imperialist-imposed culture of fear, docility, submission and acceptance that divides the workers and subjects them to greater exploitation and oppression.
They must exert all-out effort in building unions, waging struggles for wage increases and better working conditions and asserting that such rights and demands be accorded to all workers, be they regular or contractual workers. Despite the great difficulties and all-out suppression, workers have achieved important victories in building unions and various types of associations both inside and outside the factories.
Working class communities must serve as the base for mass organizing employed workers, the unemployed and their families. Worker activists and activists of the youth and student movement must tirelessly build working class organizations in the communities in order to serve as mainstays of the workers' movement. 
As such, working class communities are a bastion of the workers' movement from which they can wage struggles to push forward the demand for wage increases, lower prices of food and fuel, higher allocation for health, education and other social services, employment, industrialization and land reform and fight the Aquino regime's cronyism and corruption, privatization schemes and other such policies that serve foreign big business, sell out the country's patriomy and subject the workers and toiling masses to exploitation, oppression and worsening socio-economic conditions.
Indeed, the Filipino workers face great challenges. These are, however, not insurmountable. But in order to leap forward, the activists of the national democratic workers' movement in the Philippines must be ready to make sacrifices in shouldering the difficult tasks of arousing, organizing and mobilizing the Filipino workers. The youth and students activists should extend assistance in order to help reach out a greater number of workers and their communities.
It is crucial for the revolutionary and progressive forces to advance the national democratic workers' movement. The sustained increase in the strength of the workers' mass movement will serve as the key in strengthening the democratic mass movement's capability to defend and advance the democratic aspirations of the people amid greater liberalization, privatization, deregulation and denationalization; and confront and cause the downfall of one ruling reactionary regime after another. 
Heightened US imperialist intervention and the increased presence of American combat troops in the Philippines demand that the Filipino workers unite under the banner of patriotism. It reminds the Filipino workers of the lead role that they played in the struggle against colonialism from the turn of the 20th century until the 1940s and the struggles they waged against neocolonial control since then.
At the same time, the advance of the national democratic workers' movement will serve the advance of the rural mass movement and the revolutionary armed struggle in the countryside, by serving as an inspiration for mass struggle and resistance; and becoming a wellspring of activists and cadres that will serve the peasant mass struggles for land reform; and of Red commanders and fighters of the New People's Army.