Sleepless in picketline

Sleeping is perhaps an ideal rest anyone could get after an all day work. Sleeping in our own place–with no mosquito bites, soft beds and quite bedroom, and the feeling of security as you sleep soundly.

This is what I gave up last night, for the second time, when I sleep over at the picketline of workers on strike in Chong Won Fashion Inc., a Korean owned garment factory in Rosario, Cavite. My little sacrifices, however, is no compare to the struggle of the workers deprived of their rights.

What to do when you’re company refused to negotiate with you for your rights and welfare?

It’s either you’ll seat on your rights or sleep on it. What I witnessedt last right are workers giving up their convenience at home to fight for their welfare and rights, and what is just for them.

Sleeping in a makeshift tents with loud background, cooking and eating in publicly exposed areas, staying in tent vulnerable to strong winds and storms and facing continued harassment and intimidation from the police and guards is no joke. But this is what workers there had to injure daily.

Angry reaction is what you could feel against the company after you’d hear stories of the workers on protest staying in picketline.

I overheard one of the workers as being told by her daugther, who is presently working abroad, in an SMS as: “Kailangan ba talaga ninyong gawin ‘yan nay? Sige po, ingat nalang po kayo (Do you have to do it (protest) mom? Take care of your self)”.

While the above message shows concern, the relatives and family members of other workers on protest actually either discouraged them from doing so or could not understand why they’re doing it.

To give up convenience of sleeping and staying at home, be at the frontline of picketline to fight for an increase salary, more welfare benefit, a just and humane compensation and working condition is worth it. When exploitation and denial of constitutional labor rights is actually taking place, it needs to be reckoned with.

This experience of the workers reminds me of how meager and unjust salary i have received from my former employer when I was working student: P5 an hour.

Not only I am a service crew for my Chinese employer’s handicraft and cross-stitch shop in Davao City, I am also working as janitor, messenger, laborer (kargador), amongst other work. My hard work actually did not paid-off well as i fell ill later. I had my two arms’ nerves swell.

Mine was difference, as we don’t have union. Although my other colleague experiences similar sufferings, we had no choice but to continue the work. We have not idea of how to neither assert our right nor create union. Not so long I resigned from my part-time job to concentrate on my studies.

Alas, struggle united is stronger than a struggle isolated.

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