Solidarity Message of the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) on the 3rd National Congress of the Unyon ng mga Mangggawa sa Agrikultura (UMA)
The Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) salutes the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) on its 3rd National Congress in Malaybalay, Bukidnon from February 20-21, 2016.
Your theme, “Vigorously fight neoliberal attacks against workers, farmers and the people. Struggle for genuine land reform, wages, jobs, benefits and rights. Arouse, organize and mobilize agriculture workers in plantations and haciendas. Boldly expand the Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura! (Puspusang labanan ang mga neoliberal na atake sa mga manggagawa, magbubukid at mamamayan! Makibaka para sa tunay na reporma sa lupa, sahod, trabaho, benepisyo at karapatan! Pukawin, organisahin at pakilusin ang mga manggagawa sa agrikultura sa malalaking plantasyon at asyenda! Mapangahas na palawakin ang Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura!) is timely and relevant.
Across the world, an estimated 1.3 billion people depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Included in these are roughly 500 million agricultural workers employed by plantations. (ILO, 2013)
In Asia, agricultural workers remain landless and endured extremely low wages. Women and child workers are exposed to precarious working conditions especially with the widespread use of banned and hazardous pesticides in plantations. In Bangladesh, more than 70% of its population are landless and 83% or 49 million of its total labour force are agricultural workers. In Sri Lanka, plantation workers languish in miserable housing conditions and the children are the most malnourished. Worse, they are not legally permitted to own any land and they cannot build their own houses.
In the Philippines, after almost three decades of implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program/Extensions with Reforms (CARP/ER), the monopoly control and ownership of vast haciendas and plantations of the biggest landlord families and agro-corporations remain intact, while the farm workers and agricultural workers remain landless as they endure inhumane working conditions including very low wages and hazardous working conditions.
It is imperative therefore to organize agricultural workers and farm workers to strengthen and integrate them to the national struggle for genuine agrarian reform. They should follow the examples of farm workers in Negros, Isabela and Hacienda Luisita in the Philippines in making land cultivation campaigns a success. In India in 2005, as a result of the rural peoples militant struggle, the Indian parliament passed the historic legislation, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), which guarantees 100 days of employment for rural households across the country. The Andhra Pradesh Vyavasaya Vruthidarula Union (Andra Pradesh Agricultural Workers Union-APVVU), a member of APC, managed to achieve greater adherence to the payment of the minimum wages as more agricultural workers benefited from NREGA.
We are with you in your struggle. On the occasion of the APCs 4th General Assembly on April 20, 2015 which was held in Indonesia, delegates approved a resolution to fully support UMA on the campaign of Filipino agricultural workers against the stock distribution option (SDO) scheme, agribusiness venture agreements (AVAs), and other neoliberal attacks gravely affecting peasants and undermining agrarian reform in the Philippines.
Ultimately, the best hope for genuine agrarian reform still lies in the peasants’ continuing militant and collective struggle and the resolute commitment to wage anti-feudal, anti-fascist and anti-imperialist struggles together with other sectors that are striving to build a truly sovereign, democratic and progressive society.
Long live UMA!
Long live APC!
Long live international solidarity!