On this International Workers Day 2022, BAYAN USA and Migrante USA offer a red salute to all the workers, especially immigrant workers, who are fighting against exploitation, oppression, abuse, and repression in all its forms–in the workplace, in the streets, in their communities and public spaces. As the pandemic rages on due to the failed, unscientific, and anti-people measures of the state, the US and Philippine economies have yet to recover from the economic blows of the pandemic. This is on top of an already unprecedented economic crisis of overproduction made worse by the state’s attempt to put a bandaid on it with neoliberal remedies.
State of Class War
The state of the world under monopoly capitalism is a state of imperialist-led war— war for territory, cheap natural resources and cheap human labor. As imperialist-led war in Ukraine intensifies, the price of oil continues to rise as it is deregulated, giving free rein to the oil monopolies and financial speculators to inflate the price per barrel to the highest levels since 2008. With global production still dependent on oil, this raises prices of all commodities worldwide. But as overproduction continues, and the prices of commodities increase, the wages of workers engaged in production and the global supply chain stagnates or depresses. Working conditions become more dangerous, and workers must risk their health and safety everyday. Under the pandemic, corporations ignore health and safety regulations in favor of increasing profit margins, and force workers to work while sick and infect others and their loved ones.
Business as usual under monopoly capitalism means the rich become super-rich and the working poor become super-poor.
But even amidst these conditions, the ongoing class war also intensifies. The most precarious workers risk it all to resist exploitation by the world’s trillion-dollar CEOs and fight for a greater share of the fruits of their labor. Inspiring examples of this include the unionization of Amazon workers in an NYC-based warehouse and ongoing campaigns to unionize other Amazon warehouses across the US. This also includes the ongoing unionization campaigns of Starbucks, FedEx and other workers across the US.
Workers Unite Against Marcos and Duterte in the Philippines
In the Philippines, workers bear exploitation and oppression in a semi-feudal and semi-colonal country. This means the level of impoverishment and hunger is worsened by the Philippine government’s peddling of Filipino workers as cheap and disposable contractual labor both in and outside the Philippines, especially as migrant workers overseas. Additionally, workers seeking to organize face repression by the state in the form of killings, arrests, and harassment. According to human rights alliance Karapatan, at least 19 of the 427 extrajudicial killings in Duterte’s counterinsurgency program were workers.
At present, Filipino workers and the rest of the poor rural majority in the country are in the throes of a high-stakes election season wherein two of the most despicable and corrupt political clans– the Marcoses and the Dutertes– have joined forces to run for offices of President and Vice-President. Should they win, it would spell more bloodshed for struggling Filipino workers and the landless majority in the countryside.
Filipino workers and the poor majority are also engaged in class warfare against the ruling elite and comprador bourgeoisie including Marcos and Duterte by way of resisting union-busting and other forms of state repression. Filipino workers are not only uniting to resist contractualization and other neoliberal schemes to squeeze more profit from their blood and sweat, but are also joining the revolutionary struggle in the countryside to fight the fascist state and genuinely change the system into a truly democratic one.
Filipino workers in the U.S.
In the U.S., Filipino migrant workers are triply exploited by the U.S. state, employers and the neglectful Philippine state. Amidst attacks through wage theft, labor trafficking, unemployment, lack of economic aid especially among the undocumented, and deportation, Filipino migrant workers also suffer from the continued criminal neglect of the Philippine state through its embassy and consulates. For many months in 2021, consulates were closed down for days at a time and remained inaccessible while many Filipinos needed passport renewal and other consular services. Passports are vital for Filipinos to access services in the U.S. especially for the undocumented whose options for legal identification documents are very limited. And while consular services have resumed, they remain very slow and cumbersome. In addition, passport renewal services are being privatized such as in Los Angeles.
Throughout two years of the pandemic, Filipino nurses and other health workers tirelessly worked the front lines treating COVID-positive patients. And yet, the profit-driven privatized health system treated frontline workers as disposable machines, subjecting them to unsafe patient:staff ratios, making them work longer hours with shortened breaks, cutting their health benefits, and providing inadequate PPE. Filipino health workers accounted for a staggering one third of all health worker deaths in the U.S in the fight against COVID-19.
In the lead up to the elections, the democratic right of Filipinos to vote has been hampered in many ways. From the lack of public information about voter registration to the anomalous dropping of registered voters from the official roster, the election process has been plagued with discrepancies. In the days leading up to the polls, thousands of Filipinos have yet to receive their ballots.
At the same time, Filipinos fight back through local and nationwide campaigns for livelihood, economic rights and campaigns to improve consular services for Filipinos. Filipino workers have been part of the picket lines fighting to unionize and to improve working conditions. They have also launched petitions and actions against state neglect, to improve services for and defend the voting rights of Filipino nationals in the U.S.
Real democracy means the interests of the workers, peasants, and rural poor in the Philippines, who comprise the majority, are upheld. This can only begin with a program for sustainable economic development, at the core of which are genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization. Only when the Philippine economy provides land, food, and jobs with living wages for all, and no Filipino is forced to leave their loved ones behind in order to look for work, can democracy be realized!
Kalusugan, kabuhayan, karapatan, ipaglaban!
Ibasura ang labor export policy!
Biguin ang tambalang Marcos-Duterte!
Labanan ang pandaraya sa halalan!
Workers of the world, unite!