Groups call for better working conditions, implementation of labor laws on Bonifacio Day

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 30) — Multi-sectoral groups staged a protest rally on Wednesday to demand better implementation of labor rights and safer working conditions, as the country marked the 159th birth anniversary of national hero Andres Bonifacio.

The Alliance of Health Workers stressed that medical workers have yet to receive their back pay and emergency allowance that were promised in 2020.

READ: DOH: DBM releases additional ₱11.5 billion for health workers' benefits 

According to the health group, medical workers still experienced poor labor conditions, working 16-24 hours amid the drop in COVID-19 cases in the country.

They also called for the appointment of a new health secretary.

Labor groups Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) and BayanMuna Partylist, along with other sectors represented at the rally, pressed for wage hikes and cutbacks on commodity prices.

House Deputy Minority Leader and ACT Representative France Castro urged the government to “make concrete steps to lower prices of basic goods” amid worsening inflation.

READ: BSP: 2022 inflation peaks either November or December, average to hit 7.8% 

“We urge the Marcos Jr. administration to prioritize the lives and livelihood of the Filipino people by heeding their calls for decent salaries and wages,” Castro said in a statement.

READ: Only ₱4.85 added to daily minimum wage since 2018, teachers group says 

With some coming from the Department of Labor and Employment office in Intramuros, the multi-sectoral groups gathered in Plaza Miranda, Quiapo and headed toward Liwasang Bonifiacio in Lawton and then in Mendiola, Manila for the protest rally.

Better, safe working environment

In a statement, women’s group Gabriela pushed for a safe workspace for women from sexual harassment and discrimination.

"Filipino women are among the most educated in the ASEAN region, but they experience one of the lowest labor force participation rates. [C]onfounding their situation is the prevalence of sexual harassment and discrimination at the workplace,” said Gabriella secretary general Clarice Palce.

Citing the case of missing Gabriela member Elizabeth Magbuan, the women’s group also called for respect of the rights of workers to free association.

READ: SC asked to issue protection order for missing labor organizers 

Gabriela said the abduction in May of Magbuan by suspected military officers is not only “a horrific form of violence committed by the state against working women” but also a "serious blight on the rights of workers to self-organization.”

The Department of National Defense (DND) earlier said that it has directed the military to investigate the disappearance of Magbanua and another activist and to comply with the writ of amparo issued by the Court of Appeals.

Members of the Federation of Small Fisherfolk Organization in the Philippines (PAMALAKAYA) also joined the protest, calling for “national sovereignty and exclusive rights of small fisherfolks” in the West Philippine Sea.

In a statement, the Department of Budget and Management said the Marcos administration will continue to implement its “eight-point socioeconomic agenda” in response to the present “society ills” in the country.

READ: Marcos administration unveils socioeconomic agenda