We salute the fast-food workers, home-care assistants, Walmart workers, child-care aides, airport workers, adjunct professors and other workers who walked out on their jobs and joined protests in more than 200 cities across the US last April 15 to call for a $15 hourly minimum wage. We salute them for standing up for higher wages and for making the said protest one of the biggest held by low-wage workers in US history.
We salute the US workers for igniting public discussions on their condition, on the need for a wage hike, and on the immense inequality and gross lack of social justice in their country through their demand and actions. Aside from forcing some US cities and some big corporations like McDonald’s and Walmart to increase wages, they have also put US Pres. Barack Obama on the spot in relation to his push for a $10.10 minimum wage.
We Filipino workers are glad that workers in the US are holding widespread protests and marches to call for doubling the existing $7.5 hourly minimum wage. We hope that they continue and intensify their fight until their demand is met and until US workers enjoy living wages, job security, and the freedom to exercise their trade-union rights. We hope that their unity and protests strengthen labor and people’s movements in the US.
US workers’ actions highlight the need for a significant wage increase in Third World countries like the Philippines, where the workers and peoples suffer from long-standing underdevelopment and from the ravages of the current global financial and economic crisis. Their actions show that Filipino workers are justified in calling for the implementation of a National Minimum Wage in the amount of P16,000 monthly.
In fighting for a $15 hourly minimum wage, US workers are trying to push back the neoliberal policy of pressing down wages, which is responsible for the fact that wages in the US have been stagnant since the 1970s. In fighting for a National Minimum Wage in the amount of P16,000 monthly, we Filipino workers are also trying to push back the same neoliberal policy, which has attacked the minimum wage in the Philippines.
US workers’ protests show that unity and collective action remain potent weapons in advancing workers’ rights and demonstrate the need for workers to form unions and other organizations. Their protests provide workers and peoples of the US the opportunity to understand their situation more deeply, as to how monopoly capitalists in cahoots with their government intensify their exploitation through neoliberal policies.
Reference: Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson, 0908-1636597