“Wala na kaming masasandigan, hindi kami pinapakinggan ng kumpanya, at simula ng magdeklara ng Martial Law, hindi na kami makapagsaka sa bundok dahil maraming militar, kaya hirap na hirap talaga kami.” (There is no one we can depend on except ourselves, the company does not listen, since Martial Law was declared, we can no longer farm in the mountains because the military roams, it’s really difficult), says Enrico P. Surigao, 53, a father of seven children, in his dialect translated into Filipino.
Tatay Enrico, as Manilans called him, is a Lumad and is working as a watchman for nine years in Adnama Mining Resources Incorporated (AMRI) in Surigao. A contractual worker in AMRI, he is one of the hundreds of workers from CARAGA region in Mindanao camped outside the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Manila since July 12 to demand an end to contractualization and Martial Law and the implementation of national minimum wage. He said that most of the 1,000 workers in AMRI.
The workers are moving to Mendiola bridge to bring their calls closer to President Duterte as he prepared for this State of the Nation Address on July 24.
When asked what prompted him to join the ‘Lakbayan’ or long travel to Manila, Tatay Enrico said that their conditions at work pushed him to do so. They are paid Php268 (US$5.30) a day, for 8-12 hours work, which is way below the Php280 daily minimum wage in Mindanao for 8-hour work. The personal protective equipment that they are using like hard hat, boots, and even uniforms are deducted from their salary. They receive no benefits. He clarified, there are no regular workers at AMRI, contrary to what was declared by the company. He and his co-workers are demanding regularization and P750 national minimum wage.
Tatay Enrico are joined by other mine workers from Marc Ventures Co., Green Stone Resources Corp., and Clarence T. Pimentel Construction and Mining and others in the camp-out dubbed as ‘kamPOBREro’. Bolstering the call, hundred more workers from banana plantations from Davao region arrived, calling out not only for regularization but an end to Martial Law, which exacerbates military harassments particularly against unionized workers.
Protesters called to junk Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Department Order 174 which they said institutionalizes rather than puts an end to the scheme of contractualization by freeing capitalists from accountability to the workers.
In March, DOLE issued DO 174 as the supposed response to the clamor and implementation of President Duterte’s campaign promise. However, different labour groups reject the Order and call for President’s issuance of Executive Order to end all forms of contractualization.
Jacinto Tanduyan, Secretary-General of KMU-Caraga, avers that “contractualization are l rampant in CARAGA region. He notes that there are 20 mining firms in CARAGA region and almost 90% of their workforce are contractual workers under labor contracting agencies, whose wages are very low and receive no benefits. Mine workers are one of the poorest in the richest region of the Philippines when it comes to minerals and natural resources. Foreign mining firms extract more profit while mine workers under contractual arrangement lack security and are beset by hunger”, Tanduyan added.
To date, there are standing figures of 24.4 million or 63% of workers under different scheme of contractualization, according to IBON Research.
”President Duterte promised to end contractualization and to implement national minimum wage in many of his campaign sorties during election. He even cited the destitution of Mindanaoans as a compelling reason why wages of workers all over the country should be the same. kamPOBREro serves as a test of how serious the current government is in uplifting the lives of poor. It deserves every support possible as it’s long overdue for workers to collect what is due them”, say Daisy Arago, Center for Trade Unions and Human Rights Executive Director.###