Philippines: Once Again On Wage Struggle

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Jul 5 2007 03:25
Philippines: Once Again On Wage Struggle


In preparation for the opening of the 14th Philippine Congress this July the unions and Leftist organizations are once again carry the issue of wage increase, not on the proletarian terrain but on the reformist and parliamentary way.

Initiated by the conservative Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), the largest trade union center in the Philippines, the wage issue has been put in the national news. Then the radical-reformist Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) and the party-list Partido ng Manggagawa (PM or Labor Party) followed but differ with TUCP in terms of ‘tactics’ and the increase demanded.

While TUCP bats for Php75.00, APL ask for Php 136.00 increase. The maoist Kilusang Mayo Uno (May First Movement) would definitely still stick to its more than a decade Php125.00 legislated wage increase for the workers in private industries and Php3,000.00 for the public sector workers while the “leninist” PM supported these demands.

TUCP and APL wanted a wage increase through the Regional Wages and Productivity Boards (RTWPBs), the agency mandated by law to study and implement wage increases per region. KMU and PM are united to struggle for a Congress legislated wage increase.

Different tactics, same objective: Ask the bourgeois state through its own mechanisms for wage increase. The implication of these tactics whether through RTWPBs or at the halls of Congress is to engage in “negotiations”, lobbying and behind the door talks with the representatives of the capitalist class appealing to them to have mercy to the poor situation of their wage slaves. These tactics were proven inutile for more than a decade now yet the Leftists still cling to it, believing that the state and the capitalist class still have the capacity to grant them in the midst of global crisis of the system and the acute competition of each nation-states in a saturated world market.

And if the RTWBs or Congress grant a very little wage increase far behind the demands of the unions and the Leftists as what happened in the past, the latter would shout that this is an “insult to the working class!” asking them again to “prepare for another round of wage struggle next time”, again through the already proven inutile tactis.

The passivity of the Filipino workers to support this struggle can only be analyze in the context that the class is ahead of their “advance leaders” in determining the futility of asking wage increase through the legal mechanisms of the state. On the other hand, this also implied that helplessness and despair reign in the minds of many workers. These happened because of the bad experienced of the class itself in their strikes few decades ago that were led by the maoist unions.

Wage struggles are defensive struggles of the class. But they can be victorious only IF they would completely throw away all the illusions about unionism and parliamentarism. That the only way to victory is to turn the defensive struggles into offensive through the generalization of their struggles lead by the independent and sovereign workers assemblies and councils directly confronting the state and the whole bourgeoisie.

The Filipino workers should correctly learn the lessons of their own experience in class battles before they can move forward. They should also learn the experiences of their class brothers in other parts of the world who organize and struggle independently like what happened lately in Egypt. And the revolutionary minorities in the Philippines have so much responsibilities in helping their class to learn in a marxist way.

In the epoch of capitalist decadence, economic and political struggles are not separated. Every economic struggle of the workers is a political battle for seizure of political power. This is the marxist way in dealing with wage struggles world-wide.