Hijacking Labor Day

Today, 1 May 2023, the Philippines and many other countries will celebrate Labor Day to honor the contributions of workers to society.

Globally, Labor Day serves as a reminder of the interconnectivity of the economy, so much so that decisions made by businesses and governments around the world have always had widespread ramifications for workers.

For example, big technology companies deciding to move their operations offshore, out of North America for example, and into Asian countries could favor highly skilled and English-speaking Filipino workers.

That is until our country loses out to India and some other developing countries as hosts of migrating foreign companies because of the comparatively higher cost of Filipino labor.

Failure to lure in investments equates to missed job-generation opportunities, and labor flight to other countries now hosting over 10 million overseas Filipino workers.

Indeed, the Philippines has a long history of labor activism and this year’s Labor Day celebration will not be spared the usual leftist rallies replete with fist waving and effigy burning by groups that are not really pushing for the welfare of workers, but the overthrow of the government.

To these organizations that have been hijacking Labor Day celebrations, the Philippine National Police has vowed to deploy about 60,000 cops to maintain law and order.

As the usual protesters enjoy free speech and the democratic space from the government they so badly want to replace with their own discredited communist system, the general public has the right, too, to enjoy the Labor Day holiday in peace.

After all, most Filipino workers are cognizant of the fact that in this rough and tumble world, they should be in solidarity with one another while considering as passe the combative employer-employee model.

It’s all about balance and pragmatism: If workers are to continue having jobs and providing food on the table, then they must not be averse to helping their respective outfits or companies survive this post-pandemic hardship.

Amid the challenges, Filipino workers have undoubtedly made great progress in recent years, with the minimum wage being raised several times and with new laws passed to protect workers from discrimination and harassment.

Along the line of fostering harmonious employee-employer relations, President Ferdinand Marcos signed Executive Order 23 to create an inter-agency committee to strengthen the resolution of labor cases in the Philippines.

Before flying out of the country for an official visit to the United States, the President reiterated his prioritization of the protection of Filipino workers. This statement, no doubt, is being bolstered by efforts by his administration to safely bring out of Sudan the many Filipinos trapped in the fighting there.

As this sees print, the majority of the Filipinos in Sudan had been evacuated to Egypt with about 130 more on the way out of Sudan. Our prayers go to them for their safe passage from Sudan to Egypt.

Likewise, against a backdrop of rising prices of basic commodities, the President need not be reminded of the 2.47 million Filipinos who were without jobs or sources of income as of February 2023. The figure was higher than the 2.37 million recorded in January, although lower than the 3.13 million jobless Filipinos in February 2022.

“Your government is closely monitoring this, and we are doing our best to address and resolve these issues,” the President said.

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