Struggle for a Pro-worker Society!
We from the Philippines’ genuine, militant, and anti-imperialist labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno express our warmest solidarity with the workers and people of the Philippines and the world in commemorating Workers’ Memorial Day.
It is most important that we remember and bring to fore the life and struggles of our fellow workers who were killed, injured, disabled, and became ill due to work. The global capitalist system’s lack of concern for workers can be seen not only in its exploitation of workers but in the damage, whether permanent or temporary, it inflicts on their bodies.
In the Philippines, many workers are being killed, injured, disabled, and get sick due to their work. This is due to the national policy of depending on and attracting foreign investors to provide employment in the country – the root cause of which is the government’s refusal to implement genuine land reform and national industrialization.
In this situation, many health hazardous jobs are brought into the country. These jobs are being made even more dangerous by the extreme penny-pinching of capitalists when it comes to workers’ health and safety. This problem is further exacerbated with the active collusion of the government with big capitalists and the culture of impunity towards violators of workers’ health and safety being fostered by the government. Dangers to health and safety constitutes an added burden to workers already suffering from meager wages, contractual employment, and violation of workers’ rights.
The Institute for Occupational Health and Safety or Iohsad states that news reports in 2001 reveal that 126 workers were killed in their work while a similar number of workers suffered from injuries. It is safe to assume that the actual number is bigger than the number reported in the mass media in the context of an economy that teems with dangerous work and a mass media that serves the interests of big capitalists.
With the worsening of the global financial and economic crisis, big capitalists are getting even greedier and are hell-bent in cutting expenditures on workers’ benefits. With the Aquino government’s tight embrace of neoliberal policies, the crisis of the neocolonial and semi-feudal society is bound to worsen. In this situation, the number of workers who will be killed, injured, disabled, and made sick in relation to their work, will surely increase.
It is our task as workers and advocates of workers’ rights to struggle for the defense of workers’ health and safety in the workplace. We should struggle for the advancement of workers rights and welfare especially on the issues of wages, jobs, job security, and trade-union rights.
Most crucially, it is our task to advance genuine social change, because the global capitalist system will never uphold the health and safety of workers, especially in a backward-agricultural and pre-industrial society like the Philippines. We should continually emphasize among our ranks that the struggle for workers’ health and safety is ultimately anchored on our struggle for national democracy and socialism.
We should fight for the attainment of national independence and genuine democracy in our society. It is our duty to hasten the advent of a society that is pro-worker; where workers, not capitalists, wield state power.