National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno launched a nationally coordinated action on 16 February carrying the banner call “Wage Increase, not Charter Change,” and asserted that wages can and must be raised significantly without need to amend the Constitution. The group stated that Marcos’ Cha-cha would, in fact, lead to further depression of wages contrary to government promises of economic development.

“Marcos’ Cha-Cha will only worsen the situation of workers. Of course, the government will do everything to attract foreign investment. The likely ending is that wages will remain depressed, contractualization will intensify and trade unions will continue to be harassed and targeted to prevent workers from fighting back. The only people who will experience this so-called ‘development’ that they are peddling are foreign and big corporations,” said Jerome Adonis, KMU secretary general.

Happening at the same time as charter change discussions, the Philippine senate passed on second reading a bill calling for a P100 (approximately $2) across-the-board wage increase. The bill was however contested by lawmakers in the lower house Stella Quimbo and Joey Salceda who claimed the proposal will hurt micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

Meanwhile, Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Chief Information Officer Marco Valbuena pointed out that “MSMEs are burdened, not by the wages they pay their workers, but by the overbearing and oppressive weight of the big capitalists and the bureaucrat capitalist state who eat away at their profits in many different ways.”

Earlier this week, health care workers held a nationwide protest on Valentine’s Day, dubbed the “Black Hearts Day Protest” also demanding a salary increase and the release of their overdue benefits and allowances.

“The current situation of health workers continues to worsen – with low salaries, unpaid and inadequate benefits, job insecurity, high texes and being overworked due to chronic understaffing,” Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) national president Robert Mendoza said.

KMU called on all workers to speak up, launch protests, and intensify struggles for wage increase and against Charter Change.