Organized labor opposes MRT/LRT rate hike

The country’s biggest labor coalition Nagkaisa is adding its voice to the growing opposition to the impending rate hikes in the metro rail transport system.

Josua Mata, Secretary General of Sentro ng Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa or Sentro and one of the convenors of Nagkaisa likened the plan to a “wrecking ball” that will smash the train riders en masse come 2015.

“The rate of every crushing ride in MRT and LRT will be rising at a time rates in other PUVs are falling because of plummeting prices of oil. The timing is not just bad. The policy itself is very bad, it’s anti-labor,” said Mata.

Mata said labor groups under Nagkaisa will be meeting after Christmas to come up with protest plans against the fare hike.

Majority of the city’s train riders belong to the working class. They are the ones who suffer the daily violence of riding an beyond-capacity and poorly maintained railway system.

The Federation of Free Workers (FFW) likewise assailed the planned increase while 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,” said FFW President Sonny Matula.

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

Again, this is another example of PNoy leading from the back. Over reliance on Cabinet Secretary Abaya who not only doesn’t get, but is nowhere to be seen and heard. Result: over reliance on a greedy, socially irresponsible private sector concessionaire. Same thing in power: no policy leadership, ergo emergency powers request by another lackey in the person of Petilla who is letting the private power sector dictate supply policy. We are at the not so tender mercy of a government that does not have regulatory balls,” said Alan Tanjusay, spokesperson of ALU-TUCP.

On his part, Partido Manggagawa (PM) spokesman Wilson Fortaleza argued that the government should rather increase, not remove, the subsidies being enjoyed by train riders and at the same time put more money in developing the country’s deteriorating mass transport system.

“To us, subsidizing at least 500 million rides of workers a year is more productive than subsidizing the comfortable travel of 500 VIPs in government,” said Fortaleza, adding that all taxpayers pay for at least P8-billion a year of travel subsidy for our public officials.

In 2012, some 219 million rides were recorded in MRT-3, with an average 600,000 daily passengers. LRT 1 and 2 have 241 million combined.

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