On behalf of BAYAN-Canada and its affiliate anti-imperialist and democratic organizations, warm militant greetings of solidarity to all the toiling peoples of the world! Today on International Labor Day, we salute and honor all the workers who made sacrifices and continue to sacrifice to this day for what we currently enjoy as the 8-hour workday and the ability to organize and be unionized, among others that the working class struggled for throughout these years. The Filipino working class is one with the toiling masses of the world in forging a better system to ensure that the marginalized in society live in better and more decent conditions.
In this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, workers from all sectors – women, youth and students, migrants – were the hardest hit in terms of loss of livelihood, wages and healthwise. In Canada, essential workers in the frontlines have not been provided adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) and the call for mass testing needs to be amplified to better address those who contracted the virus. In the province of Ontario alone, there were 980 healthcare workers affected by the virus as of April 17th. In the Filipino diaspora, four frontliners have died because of the virus. Migrant workers deemed essential in the frontlines – the ones who work in factories, grocery stores, doing janitorial services, and the like, have been overlooked, underpaid, and receive no protection to combat this disease and safeguard their families’ health and well-being.
On the other hand, while we recognize that the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) may provide working-class Canadians temporary economic relief during the pandemic, this is still not enough for most families to pay their bills and rent. On top of this, migrant workers, especially the undocumented, are not eligible to apply for the CERB. The Canadian government discriminates between those who are and who are not to be allowed to access the benefit. The fact is: all the working people especially the migrant workers – documented or undocumented – make this country a livable place to begin with. No one should be left out.
In the Philippines, the majority of the Filipino people, including frontline workers are very much affected by this pandemic. On March 13, President Rodrigo Duterte sought emergency powers from the House of Congress to address this pandemic and approved the Bayanihan To Heal As One Act. He then declared a lockdown without a sustainable plan to respond to the immediate needs of the population — food, health, and economic relief. And this Act he sought to enforce through police and military intervention. His response to the pandemic — arrests, killings, and suppression of human rights.
Moreover, it was also revealed in his previous press conferences that the 300-billion peso stimulus package is nowhere to be found. His economic managers are more concerned with paying the US$400 million owed to the World Bank instead of seeking a debt moratorium. The government relies on remittances of Filipinos overseas to keep the economy afloat, and therefore, continues to promote the Labor Export Policy even more. Instead of building our own industry and taxing rich families and big companies to help drive the economy, the Duterte government passes on the burden of debt and crises to the migrant workers, treating them as milking cows.
We must therefore struggle for fundamental change and demand a major overhaul of the existing system so that we and our children now, and their children in the future do not suffer the way we are suffering right now. We must work towards the transformation of the world capitalist system into a system that puts people before profit, the 99 percent majority of the working and oppressed peoples before the 1 percent of the wealthy ruling elite. Now, more than ever, we need to intensify and amplify the need for international solidarity. No lockdown or pandemic will ever suppress the people’s resistance.
Long Live International Solidarity!
Long Live the Working Class of the World!