today, the workers of a Coca-Cola plant in Sta. Rosa Laguna have started their strike.
that is, Coke’s drivers, haulers, fork lift operators, and pickers, almost 300 of them, have refused to go to work, effectively stopping operations in two plants (as i write this at 9AM today), as they call for their most basic rights as workers be respected by Coke. that is, just wages, workers benefits and job security. and ironically, this strike demands that workers be given the right to form a union.
it is after all at that very moment when workers need to demand that they be allowed to form a union, that we are also told that a given company’s status quo is oppressive of its workers. it is after all ironic that workers must go on strike, to be allowed to bargain for better wages and humane treatment.
i do not know how much these workers were earning from Coke, but if we are to trust the Department of Labor and Employment’s National Wages and Productivity Commission website, then it can be anywhere from P213 to P255 a day. that’s a measly P5,100 pesos for a 20-day work month. on the off-chance than any of these workers going on strike are earning more than the P255 a day, then they get an additional P12.50 for some allowance, that can only bring it up to a ceiling of P327.50 a day. that’s still a measly P6550 for a 20-day work month.
that’s only seems large to someone who believes this PNoy government’s assertion that a family of five only needs P172 pesos a day for food. anybody else who isn’t delusional would know that this minimum wage is far far from the cost of daily living in this country. imagine that you are a worker who also doesn’t have job security, who is contractual instead of regular employee, who is without benefits of any kind.
imagine that as the DoLE-BLR IV-A, the one office that should be able to protect your rights, has declared that you are regular employee and you have a right to your union, that this only meant being made to suffer more under the hands of your employers; imagine this decision being overturned by the mere fact that your case is transferred to another office, one that is all the way in the DOLE in Intramuros Manila, far away and removed from what is going on in Sta. Rosa.
but that is also what this is about: distance. maybe also, the inability at compassion. and understanding.
it is telling after all of the state of discourse in this country, when we can bully Nancy Binay to death and she will land number 5 in the senatorial race; when we find the time to question every SMDC and SM Mall project and yet have nothing to say about the oppression of the Filipino worker; when we would all have an opinion on Aiai delas Alas’s marriage, but we will not go so far as to talk about divorce; when we would rather believe the propaganda of “credible elections” even as it is too obvious that stalled elections are never credible.
today, in the midst of all these issues that we can barely wrap our heads around, on social media and mainstream media — which is making a business out of mediocrity as we speak — who must even care about our workers going on strike?
sadly, very few do. even as these workers’ fight, their struggle, is ours, too. it takes the heartless not to understand the pain of a strike, one that is about saying no to the pittance one is paid, one that is about sacrificing the present for the belief in a better future. you look upon these workers with all compassion possible. you take a stand against the unfair labor practices of the multinational brand that promises us all happiness.