Candles lit for Hacienda Luisita martyrs, all victims of trade union repression
“Ten years on since the Hacienda Luisita massacre, the Aquino presidency has no indication that it will end the bloody land monopoly of his clan and slave wages for the farmworkers. It’s totally outrageous that the President’s family expects Filipino farmworkers and their families to survive on PhP9.50/day (less than 0.30 NZ$) and silence them with bullets when they assert their long-running demand for genuine land reform.”
Thus was the statement of NZ-based human rights advocacy group as New Zealand trade union and human rights activists gathered on Friday 14th November to mark the International Day of Action against Trade Union Repression, to show solidarity with all workers asserting their rights to form unions to fight for just wages, job security and humane working conditions.
Members of Auckland Philippines Solidarity (APS), FIRST Union and Unite Union lit candles after watching the documentary video on one of the worst attacks against workers’ right to freedom of association: Ten years ago, on November 16, 2004, the military and police forces opened fire on striking sugar workers of the 6,453-hectare Hacienda Luisita owned by one of the Philippines’ biggest landlords – the president’s Aquino-Cojuangco clan.
President Benigno Aquino III was the manager of Hacienda Luisita and member of Congress at the time of the massacre.
“We lit candles to reiterate demand for justice for the seven martyrs of the November 16, 2004 tragedy and the scores of union leaders and supporters brutally killed in the following months. How many more lives of poor peasants and farmworkers will be taken before the President’s family heed the numerous court orders following massive strikes and solidarity actions demanding just distribution of the land in Hacienda Luisita,” APS asked.
“We dare Pres. Aquino and his family members to try living on PhP9.50/day like the thousands of families of the striking sugar workers who remain denied of justice and dignity of hard labour up to this day,” APS concluded.