TUCP pushes non-monetary benefits for Labor Day

Published by rudy Date posted on April 29, 2009

MANILA, Philippines – The country’s largest labor group yesterday pushed for the granting of non-monetary benefits as a Labor Day gift for workers nationwide.

Alex Aguilar, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) spokesman, said organized labor is submitting to President Arroyo a 15-point demand, excluding a petition for salary hike.

Aguilar said TUCP opted to defer the traditional filing of a petition for salary increase until the third quarter of the year or “as soon as there are signs of economic recovery.”

“TUCP is not withdrawing our demand for wage hike, we are merely waiting for the right time. We are taking a backward step at the moment because we are not confident that the wage boards would grant our demand for salary hike because of the crisis,” he said.

But Aguilar stressed that TUCP’s Labor Day demand still highlights the need to provide workers, particularly the displaced ones, immediate economic relief through non-monetary benefits.

On top of their list is the granting of unemployment insurance for six months to the reported 50,000 workers displaced as a result of the economic crisis.

“To make our demand feasible, we are suggesting that the Social Security System (SSS) extend unemployment insurance equivalent to the prescribed minimum wage salary for displaced workers until they find new jobs or for at least six months,” Aguilar said.

He added that TUCP is also seeking the suspension of SSS, Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and Pag-Ibig loan payments of displaced workers.

TUCP is also requesting the government to lower interest rates for housing loans, implement a moratorium on tuition and home rental increases.

It also sought the lifting of taxes on overtime pay and holiday pay and for a refund of taxes collected in 2007 from minimum wage earners nationwide.

The labor group asked the government to allocate P3 billion for training and re-training of workers, speedy disposition of labor cases, livelihood grants for workers and trade unions as well as scholarship to children of displaced workers.

The workers also demanded the scrapping of the oil deregulation law, moratorium on power and water rate hikes and for the government to promote the use of locally made fabric materials for all government uniforms.

For government employees, TUCP is asking the government to grant at least 10 percent increase in monthly pay and to defer the rationalization program, which they claimed would only increase the already high unemployment rate in the country.

Members of the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE), on the other hand, staged a protest yesterday to dramatize their demand for a P3,000 increase in the basic pay of public employees.

“That’s the best news state workers would like to hear for Labor Day,” COURAGE president Ferdinand Gaite said.

The militant Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), however, aired their dismay over Malacañang’s announcement of “no wage hike” benefits for workers on Labor Day.

KMU chair Elmer Labog said their group will continue to press for a legislated wage increase, review of cases of retrenchment, support the regularization of workers and the granting of P10,000 financial aid for displaced workers.

Meanwhile, job fairs in Baguio, Metro Manila, Cebu, Davao and Pangasinan will mark the government’s celebration of Labor Day on May 1. –-Mayen Jaymalin, Artemio Dumlao, Jun Elias, Marvin Sy

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