August 2, 1902, a day before the IFI was proclaimed

Union Obrera Democratica Filipina

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Union Obrera Democratica (Spanish language, but without Spanish diacritics, meaning ‘Democratic Workers Union’) was a trade union centre in the Philippines. The organization was the first modern trade union federation in the country, earlier labour groups had been more of mutual aid societies and guilds.[1] The organization had thirty-three affiliated trade unions as of 1902.[2] In 1903 the organization counted with 150 affiliated unions, and around 20,000 members in the Manila area.[3] At its peak, the Union Obrera Democratica had around 150,000 members in eight provinces of Luzon.[4]

Founding

The organization was established on February 2, 1902 at a congress of “approximately 140 printers and lithographers” gathered at Variedades Theater in Sampaloc, Manila.[5] Isabelo de los Reyes, or Don Belong, was elected president of the organization, whilst Hermenegildo Cruz was elected secretary. Except for Cruz, all the elected founding officers were “rich manufacturers and employers in Manila.”[6] The founding congress adopted the principles of two books, Vida e Obras de Carlos Marx by Friedrich Engels and Los Campesinos by Errico Malatesta, as the political foundation of the movement.[2]

According to historian Melinda Tria Kerkvliet, the main goals of the organization were: “to improve working conditions through protective labor legislation; locate work for the unemployed and assist their families; provide free education for workers’ children; assist sick members and those in distress; and emancipate workers through saving and related projects.”[7]

July 4, 1902

UOD organized a mass rally on July 4 (the Independence Day of the United States), 1902, with around 50,000 participants. The rally demanded independence for the Philippines.[8]

August 1902 strike

The organization called for a national general strike on August 2, 1902, in protest of the refusal of the government to comply with the demands for increased wages for the workers. The first strike action occurred on August 9, 1902, as workers at the Malabon Commercial Tobacco Factory staged a went on strike. The Union Obrera Democratica organized various walk-outs in factories in Manila and adjescent cities in support of the strike. The state authorities responded by arresting Don Belong and three other union leaders. Don Belong was sentenced to four months in jail. As a result of the strike, wages were increased in some factories. Working hours were, however, unaffected.[2]

Gomez at the helm

Don Belong was pardoned soon after being jailed, on condition that he would not continue as a labour organizer. Cruz assembled a meeting to elected a new president of the organization. The Spanish physician Dr. Dominador Gomez as elected as the new president of Union Obrera Democratica.[2] After the election of Gomez, the name of the organization was changed to Union Obrera Democratica Filipina (‘Filipino Democratic Workers Union’).[3]

May Day 1903

In April 1903 a meeting was held in the Malacañang Palace between the Union Obrera Democratica Filipina leaders (including Gomez) and governor William H. Taft, in which the trade unionists demanded that May 1 be celebrated as ‘Labor Day‘. No agreement was reached, as Taft and Gomez clashed verbally. Following this meeting, Gomez was labelled as a ‘subversive’ element. Requests from the Union Obrera Democratica Filipina to organize a rally on May 1 was denied by the authorities.[3]

In the end, UODF organized a massive anti-imperialist rally with around 100,000 participants outside the Malacañang Palace.[9] This was the first May Day celebration in the Philippines.[9]

 Disintegration

Gomez was subsequently arrested and condemned to forced labour. Like Don Belong, he was acquitted on the condition that he left UODF. Following Gomez’s defection, unions began disaffiliating from UODF. After only two years of existence, the organization collapsed. Moreover, the U.S. administration began bringing American Federation of Labor organizers to the country, trying to promote a less confronational type of unionism (leading to the foundation of the Union del Trabajo de Filipinas).[4]

 References

Organized labour portal
  1. ^ Dennison, Eleanor. Philippine Labor under the Commonwealth, in Far Eastern Survey, Vol. 7, No. 24 (Dec. 7, 1938), pp. 277-282
  2. a b c d Guevarra, Dante G. History of the Philippine Labor Movement. Sta. Mesa, Manila: Institute of Labor & Industrial Relations, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, 1991. pp. 17-18
  3. a b c Guevarra, Dante G. History of the Philippine Labor Movement. Sta. Mesa, Manila: Institute of Labor & Industrial Relations, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, 1991. pp. 19-20
  4. a b Guevarra, Dante G. History of the Philippine Labor Movement. Sta. Mesa, Manila: Institute of Labor & Industrial Relations, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, 1991. pp. 23, 25
  5. ^ Melinda Tria Kerkvliet. Manila Workers Unions, 1900-1950. Quezon City: New Day, 1992, p. 7.
  6. ^ Melinda Tria Kerkvliet. Manila Workers Unions, 1900-1950. Quezon City: New Day, 1992, p. 8.
  7. ^ Melinda Tria Kerkvliet. Manila Workers Unions, 1900-1950. Quezon City: New Day, 1992, p. 7.
  8. ^ Pomeroy, William J. The Philippines: colonialism, collaboration, and resistance. New York: Internat. Publ, 1992. p. 51
  9. a b Oliveros, Benjie. May 1st, a History of Struggle, in Bulatlat, Vol. VI, No. 12, April 30 – May 6, 2006

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_Obrera_Democratica_Filipina

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s