MANILA, Philippines - It was indeed one big surprise they got, but not what they expected.
A labor coalition, called Nagkaisa, today lambasted the administration of President Benigo Aquino III for failing to address the demands of workers.
In a statement, Nagkaisa convenor Alan Tanjusay said Aquino “disappointed the thousands of workers who went to Mendiola waiting to hear his good news. He failed the workers and yet he doesn't get it.”
In his Labor Day speech this morning, Aquino dismissed calls for a P125 increase in wages for workers in private companies, saying this will bring down the struggling economy.
Aquino said he will only deliver feasible plans for workers, contrary to the wish list of labor groups in terms of wages and other benefits. He earlier promised there will be “surprises” come Labor Day.
He said he is laying down real solutions to the labor market’s woes, instead of promises that can only be described later as politicking.
“On Pres. Aquino's computations to illustrate how unreasonable the wage increase amounts we are asking for. His physical act of computing the wage figures are already signal to the wage boards and the congress to thumb down any significant wage hike. It is also to project that he knows the issue very well when in fact he obviously doesn't,” Tanjusay said.
He also warned the government. “Mr. President, please don't dare the workers. If push comes to shove, you will get what you deserve.”
‘Laborer is supreme’
In another statement, the Pagbabago! People’s Movement for Change said Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle was more knowledgeable of the workers’ plight.
In his Labor Day message, Tagle said "laborer is supreme than capital and profit [ang manggagawa ay higit na mahalaga kaysa sa kapital at tubo]."
"We appreciate the statement made by Archbishop Tagle. It underscores the importance of labor both for the upbringing of one's family and the society, and most importantly it upholds the honor of the laborer," said Fr. Joe Dizon, spokesperson of Pagbabago!
"The workers who are building-blocks of our society do not deserve change especially in these trying times of rising costs of basic goods and services. We are disappointed with President Aquino's statement that rejects the proposal (for a P125 increase.) He takes in consideration business but shows no consideration at all for the workers," Dizon said.