It’s Monday, September 1, 2008 here in the Philippines, although it’s probably still August 31 for many people who are reading this. The first Monday in September is Labor Day in the United States, so I thought I’d write a little bit about Labor Day in the Philippines. Now, let me be clear, though, Labor Day in the Philippines is not celebrated on the first Monday in September. Here in the Philippines, like in most of the world, Labor Day is May 1.
The first Labor Day in the Philippines was celebrated on May 1, around 100 years ago. I have found sources that say that the first Philippine Labor Day was on May 1, 1903, and I have also found sources saying that the first Philippine Labor Day was on May 1, 1913. I can’t really say which is correct, but I tend to lean toward 1903 being the correct one.
Labor Day in the Philippines is called “Araw ng Manggagawa” – Manggagawa being the Tagalog word meing “Worker” – so literally it is translated “Day of the Worker.”
Of course, Labor Day is a legal holiday, and Filipinos do not have to work on that day. Traditionally, during that time the President tends to review the minimum wages and determines if a raise in the Minimum Wage of the country is in order. Most jobs in the Philippines pay the minimum wage, and thus, most worker’s wages are set by the government, since they set the minimum wage. Sometimes, I wonder if people here realize that in the USA, and most first world countries, only a very small minority of jobs pay minimum wage, most jobs pay well above the minimum wage.
In my research about Labor Day in the Philippines, I read that the original workers who protested for better working conditions, which started Labor Day in the Philippines, were asking for these items:
- Eight Hour Work Day
- Abolition of Child Labor
- Just Labor Standards for Women
- Liability for Capatilists
To be honest, I don’t really understand what is meant by “Liability for Capatilists.” Perhaps they mean that if a businessman does something that injures or damages the workers in some way, he will be held legally liable. Other than that, I can’t figure out what it may mean.
Funny thing is that here we are, around 100 years after the first Philippine Labor Day, and most of those original goals are, in my opinion, still not realized by Philippine Workers:
Eight hour work day: Today, I think that most Filipinos work more than 8 hours in a single workday. I think that 10 or 12 hours is more common.
Abolition of Child Labor: Especially in the “underground economy” of the Philippines, many children work, it is not uncommon at all.
Just Labor Standards for Women: In this area, I believe that the goal has been accomplished. It seems to me that women are treated fairly in the workplace here (in comparison to their male counterparts). I mean, after all, unlike most countries (especially the USA), the Philippines has had two Female Presidents now.
What do you think, is the workforce in the Philippines treated fairly?