Sunday, January 4, 2015

4 reasons why workers oppose LRT, MRT fare hike - labor groups

MANILA - What are the four basic reasons why workers, who make up the bulk of LRT and MRT commuters, oppose the fare hike?

The labor coalition Nagkaisa! names these reasons as:

  • Fare hike is not meant for service upgrade but for debt payments to a private concessionaire.
  • Most of train riders belong to lowly-paid workers and cannot afford the increase.
  • Government is cutting MRT/LRT subsidy but hiking travel budget of public officials.
  • Fare hike is a move towards privatization.

In a joint statement, Nagkaisa! also asked LRT and MRT riders, who also include a majority of students, to express their opposition to the fare hike through:

  • Taking selfies or group pictures holding mini posters and posting them on their social media accounts with the hashtag, #MRTprotest
  • Joining online petitions addressed to the DOTC, Malacanang, and Congress
  • Seeking remedy from the courts
  • Joining scheduled mass actions

The Nagkaisa! coalition, which includes various labor groups, plans to hold various protect activities on Monday.

Members of Partido Manggagawa (PM), Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA), and Federation of Free Workers (FFW) will be leading the protest at the MRT Pasay-Taft station while the Sentro ng Nagkakaisang Manggagawa (Sentro), Public Sevices Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK), PM and other members of Nagkaisa! are taking the MRT North Avenue station. The Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) is taking the Cubao station.

Aside from the mass action, Nagkaisa! will be distributing leaflets explaining why commuters should oppose the fare hike.

‘First oppressive policy of 2015’

“The fare hike is the first oppressive policy of the year, the first assault by government on workers’ living condition. Workers were first to pay their taxes but they were also the first to carry the burden of budget cuts and other unjust policies by government,” said PM spokesman Wilson Fortaleza.

He added: “Sa daang matuwid, manggagawa ang tinitipid (on the straight path, workers are shortchanged).”

For his part, PALEA President Gerry Rivera lamented that while fares in other modes of transportation, including airlines, are dropping significantly because of the sharp drop in oil prices, fares in the MRT and LRT are rising by as much as 87 percent.

SENTRO Secretary General and Nagkaisa! convenor Josua Mata said, “The true logic of removing the MRT subsidy is the government shifting to the role of shameless facilitator to the transfer of public money to private hands. In this particular case, the commuters are subsidizing the guaranteed returns of private investors.”

In a series of dialogues with the President, Nagkaisa! has called for a cost-effective and efficient mass transport system since the heavy traffic has been eating up a lot of the workers’ productive hours.

“The PNoy administration has not only failed to address the traffic mess, it is shamelessly adding a three-fold burden to workers who will have to shell out more for their own train fare and that of their children who go to school,” said Julius Cainglet of the Federation of Free Workers (FFW).

The Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) proceeded with the implementation of the rate hike Sunday, amid oppositions from labor, commuter groups and legislators.

Hundreds of thousands of people use each of the metro lines every day.


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