GMA leaves proposed wage hike moratorium to regional boards

Published by rudy Date posted on February 10, 2009

MANILA, Philippines – President Arroyo steered clear yesterday of calls for a moratorium on wage hikes and the grant of benefits to help employees cope with the global financial crisis.

Speaking at the multisectoral job summit at Malacañang yesterday, Mrs. Arroyo said the issues of pay raise and workers’ benefits are better left to labor and management to discuss.

“The issue of moratorium on wages can be discussed when wages are due for annual review between July and August,” she said.

Meanwhile, Labor Secretary Marianito Roque said 1.5 percent of this year’s national budget will be allocated for the hiring of displaced workers in the government.

Members of the Business Processing Association of the Philippines have also agreed to create between 80,000 to 100,000 jobs in the food, manufacturing, tourism, pharmaceuticals and healthcare industries, he added.

Roque said a moratorium on wage hikes would be tackled after the Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board reviews the matter of wages during the third quarter.

It would greatly rely on the discussions between labor and management since the government acts more as a third-party facilitator in these talks, he added.

Roque said he was not too optimistic about labor’s proposal for a legislated wage hike because it would cover sectors and regions with varying conditions.

“In some instances, it depends on the area, the specific location and there are also industries that we are looking at so it would be difficult if we legislate this and cut across all of these levels,” he said.

Roque said the government has no power to intervene in the grant of benefits to employees because it is subject to the collective bargaining agreement between labor and management.

“So it’s better left to the discussion between labor and management,” he said.

Roque said the government will embark on pump-priming projects to generate more than 700,000 jobs for displaced workers.

The recruitment and manning industry, as well as trade unions, have agreed to exert efforts to enable the country to fill the 400,000 vacancies overseas, he added.

Roque said over P4 billion was also allocated for various livelihood projects to help provide capital for displaced workers interested in putting up businesses. -– Marvin Sy with Mayen Jaymalin, Philippine Star

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