“Food, jobs, justice and freedom” were the rallying cry of thousands of Filipino workers to mark the International Labor Day on May 1, 2008.
Beset with the rising food prices in the last two weeks, the workers demanded that the government address the needs of the working people at this time of great economic difficulties. Quality and secure jobs remain the clamor of the trade unions amid the increasing contractualization and casualization of labor in the country.
More than 4,000 workers of the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), Caucus of Independent Unions in the Public Sector (CIU), and LEARN trade union affiliates from various industries marched from the streets of Manila to Malacanang. Despite the heat from the noon day sun, the workers aimed to reach the gates of the presidential palace to voice their opposition against the current government.
The APL contingent held a separate program at the Plaza Miranda then marched to Liwasang Bonifacio to meet up with other trade unions under the united front, ‘Sulong’, a coalition of various trade unions from different political orientations. The larger ranks of marching workers proceeded towards Mendiola, the road leading up to Malacanang.
The Filipino workers today are experiencing multiple burdens as the rising food prices around the world impacts on their daily living. In the last two weeks, the price of rice has tripled sending shockwaves across the country. For a rice-producing agricultural country, the Philippines is one of the largest importer of rice in the international market. The current government, in its drive towards liberalizing the economy, ignored the calls for food sovereignty and security from the workers.
The Labor Day rally began at 8am and ended at 3pm.