May Day 2013: Decent Work is Hard Work

Filipino youth group Anakbayan-Toronto (AB-T) and other mass-based organizations under the waving banner of BAYAN-Canada march with workers, local community organizers, and peoples around the globe as part of the International Workers Day on May 1st, 2013.

Since it was formalized as an international holiday in 1891, May 1st is a day of coordinated action for workers rights and struggles, for quality living and working conditions, as well as a just workplace system. Radical agitations are resonated in the midst of capitalist uncertainty and austerity.

In the Philippines, the first movement launched more than 100,000 workers on May 1, 1903 led by the Union Obrera Democratica. Segue to 1988, Southern Tagalog region experienced one of the most violent and bloody demonstrations, where high-caliber guns were indiscriminately fired to protesting workers.

At present, despite its much publicized outperformance of its neighbouring countries in Asia, the Philippines under Benigno Aquino III is not able to provide sufficient jobs and the education system cannot equip its expanding labour force with the skills needed for its own industries. The “rising star” economy has significantly increased the fortunes of a narrow clique of Filipino business tycoons by $13 billion to $47.4 in 2011-2012. The country now has total of 15 billionaires while poverty incidence remain unchanged. Three Filipinos out of ten are living under $1 per day.

In search of decent work, many Filipinos are forced to move from rural to urban areas with a large portion opting to go overseas. The pipeline for more than 5,000 people to leave the Philippines for work has ever expanded.

Meanwhile, immigration minister Jason Kenney keeps on drawing in labour force via temporary foreign workers, who are being used and abused to maintain depressed wages for both Canadians and landed immigrants. Among the 1.3 million unemployed in Canada, nearly six workers are available for every job vacancy.

In Canada as in the Philippines and around the world, the fast-growing young labour force is having a hard time to find the jobs that are commensurate with the skills they are educated. Figures are even worse on young people who are not employed, educated and no training at all. As well, many of the employed young are working informally or intermittently. The youth are so tired of low wages and long hours.

This is where our interests lie: the masses of migrant workers which constitute a chunk of the working class to be stronger than it has ever been. The boiling frog in the melting pot of Toronto should be awakened.

Together, we must stand firmly to acknowledge that the profit-driven system is not working for the people. We must raise our voices to articulate the language of communism beyond the canon of liberal democracy. We must march forward to appeal for a strong movement in the face of antagonisms.

Toronto May Day 2012

As part of the Filipino community, AB-T recognizes the need to eliminate the exploitation of migrant workers. We are so stoked of the fact that normalcy is beginning to lose its hold. But without the upshot of genuinely addressing the problems of underdevelopment and agrarian reform in the Philippines, we cannot fully effect change to our situation. And without the support of our allies, we would never succeed.

Regardless of the ever-shifting socio-political problems created by capitalism, the general spirit of militancy among working peoples continue during this great and historic day.


 All are welcome to join the BAYAN contingent on May 1st:
5:30PM: Start of Program Nathan Phillips Square
6:00PM: Rally along Queen Street to Bathurst to Little Norway Park

For more information, please contact:
Ysh Cabana at or (416) 902 2551.

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