Monday, December 22, 2014

Groups to plan protest actions vs train fare hike

MANILA, Philippines - Various labor and people's organizations will launch protest actions against the impending Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT) fares increase next year.

Josua Mata, secretary general of Sentro ng Nagkakaisang Manggagawa (Sentro) and one of the convenors of labor alliance Nagkaisa, said the fare hike is "anti-labor."

"The timing is not just bad. The policy itself is very bad, it's anti-labor," Mata said.

He said labor groups under Nagkaisa will meet after Christmas to come up with protest plans against the fare hike.

Mata noted that majority of the city's train riders belong to the working class who are the ones suffering daily from the poorly maintained railway systems.

The Federation of Free Workers (FFW) also scored the scheduled increase while the workers' wages stagnated to the barest minimum.

"We believe pulling money out of a worker's pocket through a fare hike is an incentive to private concessionaires. We will gain nothing from it, not even improved services," FFW president Sonny Matula.

Another Nagkaisa convenor, the Associated Labor Unions-TUCP, hit the fare hike, saying it shows the government's repeated blunders in running public utilities because of over-reliance to private concessionaires.

Meanwhile, Renato Reyes Jr. of the militant group Bayan said they will contest the fare increase at the "soonest possible time."

"The DOTC's (Department of Transportation and Communicatios) treachery prevents oppositors from getting a TRO (temporary restraining order) because of the holiday season. Nonetheless, we will protest and challenge the fare hike," Reyes said.

The government hopes to generate around P2 billion from the fare hike which ranges from 50 percent to 87 percent.

Reyes alleged that the reason for the increase is not to give better service to the train ridership but to assure profit to the private companies.

"The users-pay principle government is invoking basically tells the commuter to fend for himself as no government subsidy is forthcoming. It's simply government abandonment of the taxpayers," he said. - By Dennis Carcamo (

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