Workers hail Cardinal Tagle's Labor Day Mass
Activists cheered by Church's support for labor reform and wage hike
The leftist workers' group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), or May 1st Movement, hailed Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle for "showing sympathy to the plight of the country’s workers" and supporting their calls.
The Manila archbishop announced on Sunday that he will hold a Mass for workers in the central district of Quiapo on May 1.
Bishop Broderick Pabillo, head of the bishops' social action secretariat, meanwhile, urged the government to increase minimum wages so that ordinary people can feel the government's claim of a growing economy.
"It’s really one issue that the government should face this Labor Day if they really want an even growth for everybody and not just for the few," Tagle said in a press conference this morning.
Labor groups, who are set to stage huge protest actions tomorrow, have sought a wage increase of up to $3 a day.
Pabillo said the daily minimum wage of $11 in Metro Manila is less than half of the estimated $24 daily cost of living.
Tagle earlier outlined the social teachings of the Church on labor and expressed the Church’s compassion toward workers.
He said workers are “the most important part of production” and while the growth of the financial aspect of production is important, it should not be a reason to exploit them.
Labor leader Elmer Labog said Tagle's sympathy and support "give workers more strength in pushing for a substantial wage hike, regular jobs and respect for labor rights."
"It is inspiring for us workers to know that in times like these, when capitalists and the government collude in exploiting and repressing workers, a key leader of the Church is on our side," Labog said.
He said workers and the poor need all the support that they can get.
"May this Labor Day Mass forge a closer unity between workers and the Catholic Church. We can work together on a lot of issues. We will always stand with the Church in promoting justice and equality not just for workers but also for the entire Filipino people," KMU's Labog said.
Meanwhile, the International Labor Organization (ILO) has called on the Philippine government and private companies to develop an "adequately remunerated" middle class to increase expenditure that would sustain economic growth and address poverty.
"In the last few years, there has been a steady growth but the challenge is to have that growth translated into decent jobs," said Lawrence Jeff Johnson, ILO country director in an interview.
"What we need is to develop a strong middle class who are adequately remunerated,” he said.
Figures from the Department of Labor and Employment show that in 2012, around 14.9 million out of the 37.6 million employed people belong to the so-called vulnerable employment sector or are "workers forced to accept or create whatever work is available to survive.”
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