Palace warned: French like general strike in RP, possible, says leftist group
A militant group warned Malacañang of a scenario of an across-the-nation general strike similar to that was launched by France’s 1.9 million-strong workers is not a remote possibility in the country, given the extreme degree of crisis confronting the country’s 37 million labor force.
The fearless forecast was raised by the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) after Labor secretary Marianito Roque announced that the government maybe looking at 200,000 jobless workers in six months if companies continue to shed jobs at present rate.
“A general strike across-all-sectors and across-the-archipelago is not a remote possibility given the extreme impact of the global financial crisis and the government’s continued implementation of neo-liberal economic impositions despite its adverse and devastating effects to 90 million Filipinos. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her top economic officials are facing a social volcano here,” Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.
Records of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) show that 18,641 workers lost their jobs as of last week and that 33, 548 were working on reduced hours since companies in economic zones felt the brunt of the global economic crisis and financial crunch late last 2008.
“The scenario of general strike that would include factories, schools, government agencies, transport and farm and fish strikes is not a remote possibility. The current turn of events is pushing and driving the people to stage a general strike that would lead to the crowding of the National Capital Region and other key urban centers and cities nationwide. Mrs. Arroyo is really in big trouble,” the Pamalakaya leader said.
Hicap said to cushion the impact of the global economic crisis, the Macapagal-Arroyo government should impose a number of mitigating measures including a stop to mass lay off, moratorium on withholding tax, refrain from imposing new taxes, stop retrenchment of workers, spare the P 12.5 billion SSS funds from corruption, stop water and electricity rate hikes among others.
The Pamalakaya leader added that the government should allow the passage of House Bill 3059 or the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB) to ensure genuine land reform to rev up agricultural production in the countryside that will absorb jobless and job-lacking Filipinos all over the country.
Hicap said if passed into law, GARB will lead the national economy to absorb job losses in the National Capital Region and other urban centers, including displaced overseas Filipino workers abroad.
“Free land distribution with guaranteed strong subsidy and support mechanism is the most effective and far-reaching economic measure that would shield the country from the devastating impact and global menace of economic and financial meltdown across the globe,” Pamalakaya’s Hicap insisted.
For the fisheries sector, Pamalakaya demanded a P 32-billion production subsidy to enable the not less than 1 million small fisherfolk and fish workers to continue production and cushion the impact of the worldwide economic and financial crisis.
The group suggested a minimum P 4,500 oil subsidy for all small fishermen operating small fishing boats and P 2,000 for non-motorized small fishing boat owners across-the-country.
The P 4,500 monthly subsidy constitutes about 50 percent of the monthly expenses spent by marginalized fishermen owning a small fishing boat in their daily fish capture. Hicap said the proposed measure if approved will benefit 313,985 small fishing boat operators and will cost the government a monthly production subsidy of P 1.4 billion per month or P 16 billion per year.
As for the P 2,000 production subsidy to non-motorized boats, the proposed production subsidy measure will benefit more than 600,000 small fishermen all over the country. #