By Jose Maria Sison
International League of People’s Struggle
May 1, 2015
In representation of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, I convey warmest greetings of solidarity to all the participants of the 31st International Solidarity Affair. I also take the opportunity to congratulate the host, the Kilusang Mayo Uno, for having served as the genuine labor center in the Philippines in the last 35 years, for having waged struggles in defense of workers’ rights and for having won brilliant victories.
We in the ILPS appreciate highly the contributions of KMU to the ILPS as a whole and for Commission No. 5. The KMU has served as the lead organization in the commission and has played a key role in the establishment of WORKINS and the issuance of statements on outstanding labor issues in the world. The ISA and WORKINS are complementary instruments of the international proletariat.
We wholeheartedly agree with the theme of the ISA: Workers and Peoples Unite: Fight Neoliberal Attacks on Wages and Trade-Union Rights! The largest monopoly capitalists based in the imperialist countries and their subalterns on a global scale make their superprofits by extracting the surplus value from the working class.
Under neoliberalism, the accumulation of private capital is aided and accelerated by the wage cuts, low tax rates for the corporations and the wealthy, the liberalization of investments and trade, the privatization of public assets, the deregulation of social and environment restrictions, and the denationalization of economies that are underdeveloped but rich with natural resources like the Philippines.
The monopoly bourgeoisie mercilessly impose wage cuts, cutbacks on social benefits, job insecurity through contractualization and flexibilization of labor, and repression of the right to organize unions. The crisis of overproduction has recurred worse than the previous one. The expansion of money supply and credit has only served to bail out and fatten the financial markets but not to revive production and employment. Thus, the global crisis and depression have persisted.
Finance capitalism has been used to generate one financial bubble after another, which has burst one after the other in due course. It has hastened the overvaluation of the assets of the big bourgeoisie. To protect these from the threat of inflation, the bourgeois state adopts austerity measures at the expense of the working people and repressive measures to counter their protests and demands. It is widely known that merely one percent of the population own most of the world’s wealth, while they impoverish the rest.
The bourgeois state also engages in frenzied borrowing and has already generated the biggest kind of bubble that will be far more destructive than the previous types of bubbles. The irrationality of the capitalist system is manifested in the huge tax cuts for the big bourgeoisie, the graft and corruption that characterize the transactions of the state, the mounting debt service and ever rising military expenditures, while the social benefits are cut down for the working people who pay the most tax in the form of the withholding tax and the indirect taxes incorporated in the price of basic commodities.
The workers and peoples of the world must unite to fight for their rights and their welfare. They must aim for a fundamentally new and better world of people’s democracy and socialism against imperialism and reaction. All of them are suffering from escalating exploitation and oppression as a result of the ever worsening crises of the world capitalist system. The majority of the people suffer rising unemployment, underemployment and ever declining incomes and the so-called middle class is shrinking even in the imperialist countries.
The social conditions are far worse in the underdeveloped countries and are resulting in wider mass protests, armed conflicts of various sorts and revolutionary resistance. The imperialist powers find it easy to interfere in said countries and to unleash wars of aggression against them. They settle their contradictions at the expense of the people in the underdeveloped countries, but now they are increasingly forming blocs against each other, as the crisis of their own making drives them to struggle for a redivision of the world.
It is fine that the 31st ISA is providing its participants with an exposure program and a forum to inform them regarding the neoliberal attacks on wages and trade union rights in the Philippines. Thus, the international delegates can observe the situation and struggles of the Filipino workers, and they can exchange experiences in the spirit of mutual learning for the purpose of raising the level of struggle in various countries and the level of international solidarity.
The estimated population of the Philippines is now 107 million. The work force is 64 per cent of the population. The overwhelming majority of the people are under feudal and semifeudal exploitation. They are earn an average of less than 2 US dollars a day. The 12 million overseas contract workers represent some 20 per cent of the work force and show that the Philippine economy cannot employ them for the country’s own benefit and development and cannot keep them from separating from their families.
Philippine government statistics are notorious for understating unemployment and underemployment figures, which anomalously show that the work force in the Philippines is enjoying employment comparable to that in many developed countries or even better than that in several developed countries. Many of those considered employed do household chores for their own families, are casuals or odd jobbers in the service, agricultural and industrial sectors of the economy or have stopped looking for work and are excluded from accounting by random samplers of the government.
Among those employed, there is a wide gap between the minimum wage and the basic cost of living. Metro Manila is supposed to offer the highest minimum wage in the country, which is PHP466 or USD 10.50 per working day. But the amount needed daily by an average family to live decently is estimated to be PHP1,086 or USD 24.50 in August 2014. In the provinces, the daily minimum wage is far lower than the cost of living..
Under the banner of the Kilusang Mayo Uno, public-sector workers have been outstanding in launching campaigns to demand a national minimum wage of PHP16,000 or USD 363 and the banning of contractual employment. The campaigns seek to unite all workers in pushing back the neoliberal attacks on the minimum wage and bring the minimum wage to the level of adequate and dignified subsistence of the worker’s family.
The extreme exploitation of the workers in the Philippines is made possible by the repression of workers’ rights, particularly in the form of harassment and retrenchment of union officials, filing of trumped-up charges, violent dispersal of strikes, and murder and enforced disappearance of trade-union organizers and mass activists.
The use of state terrorism in favor of foreign monopoly enterprises, big compradors and landlords against the workers and peasants has served to strengthen the will of the people to resist through every possible legal means. Thus, the KMU and other mass organizations have been established and have won brilliant victories in arousing, organizing and mobilizing the people to fight for their national democratic rights.
But the use of state terrorism has also made legal political activity impossible for an increasing number of people, and has driven them to join the armed revolution. The people’s war has resulted in the establishment of the people’s democratic government under the leadership of the revolutionary party of the proletariat. This government has an ever growing people’s army and mass organizations for the basic exploited classes and other patriotic and rogressive sectors.
Where it is strong, the armed revolutionary movement has been able to stop the worst forms of exploitation and oppression, and has made possible better working and living conditions for the industrial and farm workers. It has undertaken land reform for the benefit of the peasants and has carried out various social programs for the benefit of entire communities of the working people.
The social programs involve public education, self-organization, raising production, health and sanitation, self-defense, cultural upliftment, and settlement of disputes among the people. Through their revolutionary education and social practice, the people learn to fight for and realize a truly independent, democratic, socially just, progressive and peaceful Philippines liberated from imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism.###