The Philippines YCW held its 34th National Council in Taytay, Rizal

After almost five (5) years of struggle, the Philippines Young Christian Workers (PYCW) finally held its 34th National Council (NC) of) from 30th April to 8th May 2018 in Taytay, Rizal. Young workers (YW) delegates from five regions – Cebu, Negros Occidental, IloIlo, Metro Manila and Camarines Norte – participated in the NC to represent their regions and share the realities. The theme was:  “Kilos Kabataang Manggagawa para sa Dignidad at Karapatan” (Young Workers Acting for their Dignity and Rights). Indeed, the movement believes that as actors of change, action should be the starting point in changing the realities of young workers and the way to transform the society through its Task of Education (TOE).

One of the highlights of the NC program was the exchange of leaders exposing the delegates to different areas of work in Valenzuela City. A first group visited the contractual group of Malanday, a second group stayed with the pedicab base group of Lawang Bato, and a third one visited a mixed group of young people in Vista Verde.

See and feel the local reality of young workers

The objective of the program was for the delegates to see and feel the reality of the YWs in the area by living with them at least for 1 day and to learn from YWs’ experiences. Each delegate had to share about their realities and experience in their regions in order to deepen the analysis and find common points to be used as a basis at the NC proper to take action and address issues affecting YWs’ lives.

During the exchange, delegates visited the work places and met young workers’ families. The pedicab group participated in the travel of a driver bringing passengers to their destination and they attended a meeting of the Association to see how they work together and how they solve problems like the political harassment experienced by them the previous month. When the group talked with the association president, they understand that the support of PYCW was much needed in terms of giving them political education and capacity building for proper management of the association.

The contractual group tackled the impact of the contractualization system and discussed how the low wages they receive from the factory is not enough to sustain the everyday needs of their families. Their salary is far below the minimum wage set by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

The delegates visiting the Vista Verde group focused the discussion more on the impact of the K12 education program implemented by the government. Basically, the K12 includes an additional 2 more years in the secondary or high school level instead of 2 years in college. In other words, students will remain in their senior high to complete the preparatory years to enter college. Working students in the group believed that the K12 program will only add up to the expenses that their parents cannot cope with. They also think that it adds to their burden as students although there are no tuition fees to pay but the school projects, uniforms, everyday fares to go to school are too much to bear. With this reality, most of them decided to stop schooling and look for a job so that they can help their family to meet their daily needs. They believed that this program should stop. The government needs to address first the lack of school buildings, numbers of chairs and teachers, among other things. They called for a broader debate about this issue.

The exchange was a great experience for both the delegates and the host groups. A solidarity activity organized during immersion was agreed upon after hearing the realities experienced. This was an opportunity to know each other better and to develop genuine friendship among them.

Participation in Labor Day mobilization

The exchange program ended with a participation in the commemoration of Labor Day and the public opening of the 34th National Council of the PYCW. Throughout the council, delegates connected the issues they learned during the visits and understood better what is happening in society in terms of labor and human rights issues, and why and how it is happening.

The PYCW participated in the Labor Day mobilization which started at Liwasang Bonifacio to Mendiola, near the Malacanang Palace, where workers denounced the issues affecting them. The delegates were holding placards demanding “Php750 National Minimum Wage Implementation,” “Abolish the Contractualization System,” and “Social Protection for All.” Workers also reminded President DU30 of his promise to abolish the contractualization system in the country and to implement the national minimum wage, a promise which brought him a mass of support from the labor sector and led to his election as the President of the country.

Motivated delegates who are clear about the YCW mission

We believe that through their participation in the NC, delegates are now much clearer about the PYCW’s mission, its advocacy work and its campaigns for young workers. We learned a lot and the sharing of our process of action, our work situation, our life and our culture motivated us even more.

The 34th NC proper was held on May 2 to 8, 2018 in CICM Sun Flower House Taytay, Rizal. 34 delegates from five regions, along with the National Team Secretariat, IYCW ASPAC and collaborators, participated in the Council. For 7 days, we dealt with the issues which affect young workers in their daily lives, which prevent them from reaching their dreams and aspirations. These issues had been ascertained during the exchange program conducted before the council.

Young workers are even more vulnerable today

Most young workers are even more vulnerable nowadays because of the precarious work, migration, the distorted educational system, and the failure to respect their labor and human rights. For the past five years of struggles, the action of the movement to organize young workers had no huge impact because the system got much worse. Among other things, the contractualization system has been rampant, forcing young workers to migrate to look for a better job. The evaluation of YWs’ reality in the Philippines showed their vulnerable situation, discrimination based on gender and age, no regular work, precarious work, harassment at work, deceptive legalization of flexible (contractual) work which is one form of attack against labor rights of the workers, local migration of young workers because of the government failure to implement the National Minimum Wage,  the discrimination against women workers in the industry and their conditions which continue to deteriorate (low wages, unsafe working environment, precarious work, violence and flexible employment schemes),  the  higher cost of living but while incomes are low, child labor in mining areas, a higher unemployment rate because of the job crisis and the impact of contractualization system. Young workers in farming areas do not own the land they till. The incomes are not enough to meet the everyday family needs or to access education.

All these realities greatly affect YWs. The labor law and the international human rights instruments that should protect the economic rights and dignity of workers are continuously violated because of the connivance between the government and capitalists.

Focus of work for the next three years

In the face of all these realities, the delegates of the 34th NC of PYCW agreed on the focus of work for the next three years: stop the contractualization system and stand up for the rights to dignity, security at work, decent salary and social benefits, freedom of association, freedom to organize informal and contractual workers, social protection for all workers, and free and quality education for all!

As actors of change, young workers are not giving up. Instead they are more furious, determined and committed to bring to the world the hope that there is still time to improve the realities, that there is still love to share. Young workers as sons and daughters of God are the bearers of unconditional love. The movement carries out its mission and TOE with every young worker in the Philippines and believes that our faith can move mountains. Our vision is that “There should be no exploitation of man by man but that a society with love, peace, justice and prosperity is possible for all.”

New national leaders, drivers of change

A new national team was elected at the council. The new members are Marvin Rubio for Metro Manila, Arjay Santiago for Camarines Norte, Jackie May Antillon for IloIlo, Renato Dela Pena for Cebu, and Madelyn Magdail for Negros. The National Team Secretariat is composed of Joan Letada, the national treasurer, and John Brian Geronimo, the national president.

Those newly elected leaders of the PYCW are committed to be the movement’s drivers of change for the next three years, from 2018 to 2021. We have faith that they will continue the mission of Christ in the movement and that through the YCW’ methodology, they will have an impact in the lives of every young worker in the Philippines. Guided by our founder’s words “A young worker is worth more than all the gold in the world,” they pledged to develop their capacity and serve the young workers with education through action. We ask for your support and prayers in this new chapter of their life as organizers in the forefront of the movement’s advocacy and campaign work.

We would like to extend our deep gratitude to those people who helped us to materialize this event. Without your undying support, the national council would not have been as successful as it was. May God bless you!


Related Articles

ASPAC Facebook Page