general strikes in the philippines

map of the philippines

1997, august 9 - "welga" and demonstrations experienced throughout the country
unions of the kilusang mayo uno (kmu-may first movement) and their allies in bayan (which translates to "new patriotic alliance") launched a welgang ng bayan or "people's strike" in davao city, the largest city on the big southern island of mindanao and one of the largest cities in the country. according to newspaper reports this strike paralyzed 98% of all public transportation. additionally, all banking institutions were closed by noon, and the few government workers who showed up to work were sent home at 3:30. the city was effectively shut down.

reports do not say how many factories were closed because of the protest, which was in response to increases in oil prices, but do suggest that production was seriously effected. since the philippines has had to recently devalue its peso as part of the ongoing currency turmoil in southeast asia, oil companies have sought price increases to offset their losses due to devaluation (oil is traded internationally in dollars).

the welga was apparently nation-wide, although the only reports received were from mindanao. there were protests across the island in addition to the welga in davao city.

a welgang ng bayan is a tactic developed in the philippines that played a key role in undermining the dictatorship of ferdinand marcos, and continues to be used to combat the reactionary economic and political policies of his successors, first cory aquino and now fidel ramos. it generally starts with a general strike by workers, and is joined by a transport strike, closing of stores and shops, and the establishment of barricades to stop any remaining private transportation.

for fore information on labor in the philippines, read kmu: building genuine trade unionism in the philippines, 1980-1884 by kim scipes. it is published in the philippines, but is available in north america through sulu arts & books in san francisco. you may also contact the author directly.

1995, september 18 - strikers march from manila to makati city to protest repression and price hikes

in response to a 63% increase in the price of rice and massive repression of the right to form unions and to strike, filipino workers in the national confederation of labor (ncl) and the bukluran ng mangga-gawa para sa pagbabago (bmp), held a one-day general strike september 18. the strike closed factories throughout metro manila and nearby rizal. pickets were set up at factory gates and short protest programs were held after which strikers took rides or marched to a demonstration at makati city, the country's heart of finance and capital.

xome 123,000 workers joined the protests. operations at the docks were paralysed when 3,000 workers under the banner of the alyansa ng manggagawa sa pantalan (apl - alliance of dock workers) joined the strike. according to mel manaois, chair of the apl, "we were twice stabbed by government when they allowed the prices of goods to rise even as they are undertaking privatisation of the piers which takes away our only means of livelihood." dock workers pledged to continue their strike against a government order which privatizes the piers and will lay off up to 60% of the work force.

the trade union congress and some other unions withdrew shortly before the strike was set to begin, saying they preferred to continue a thus-far fruitless dialogue with the government. "government treachery against the people's welfare is matched by the modern day judases of the trade union movement. these labour aristocrats have sold out the strike for a few pieces of political silver," said ernie arellano of the ncl.

from the industrial worker, a publication of the industrial workers of the world.

the world : asia : philippines