Lawmaker warns of looming labor unrest

Published by rudy Date posted on April 29, 2010

Rep. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos of Ilocos Norte on Wednesday warned government officials and business owners of mounting unrest among the ranks of workers because of the allegedly constant rejection of their proposed wage increases.

“Work stoppages, mass leaves, sit-down strikes and factory walkouts are again hanging over the manufacturing and services sector as the government and businesses continue to ignore workers’ plea for a wage adjustment,” he said.

Marcos, a senatorial candidate of the Nacionalista Party, said that a recent statement from the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC) that chances of a wage increase announcement on May 1 are extremely murky could spark labor unrest.

The lawmaker added that the hardline stand taken by business owners against wage increase is likely to cause them bigger losses if workers go on strike.

“I frankly do not see companies shutting down left and right if their employees are given a reasonable wage increase. On the other hand, leaving laborers no option but to go on strike would be the worst possible recourse since it will be a double whammy to the economy. Entire production systems will be halted and wage earners and their families will go hungry,” Marcos said.

He added that the government’s alleged failure to address the soaring costs of basic commodities has drastically affected the capacity of ordinary workers to support their personal and household needs.

“There is simply no way that the P380 minimum daily wage of a head of the family will be able to feed a regular-sized family. If a worker cannot afford three square meals, what more his house rent? Electricity and water bills? School fees? This matter has transcended the question of economics, it has become a humanitarian issue!” Marcos said.

On top of the workers’ fight for better wages, he added that there are allegedly rampant anti-labor policies by a number of businesses including contractualization, non-remittance of Social Security System (SSS) contributions, lack of health and other benefits and denial of the right to form a union.

“Some businesses have become downright abusive and inhuman. The DOLE [Department of Labor and Employment] should fulfill its mandate to protect the ordinary workers from these abuses,” Marcos said.

Next president and job creation

Meanwhile, Mayor Ramon Guico of Binalonan, Pangasinan, and also the president of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines, said also on Wednesday that there should also be a comprehensive review to determine if previous wage hikes have been granted to laborers.

“We have been talking of wage hike every year but we also have to consider the fact that millions of people will not benefit from it because they have no jobs in the first place,” Guico, a senatorial candidate of the ruling Lakas-Kampi Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD), said.

If elected senator, he vowed not only to push for job creation but also to ensure that there would be good-paying jobs so laborers can sustain  basic needs of their families.

Veteran broadcaster Rey Langit, also an administration senatorial candidate, said that what the country also needs is a long-term job creation plan that would solve unemployment problems at present and ensure adequate number of jobs in the next few years.

He added that analysts have warned that the Philippines may suffer from a job crisis in the coming years if the government will not be able to address the work shortage problem this early.

Langit called on the public to choose national candidates who do not only have concrete job-creation plans, but also have the capability to sustain the economic gains of the country since this is one of the main foundations of creating jobs. –FRANK LLOYD TIONGSON and JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA Reporters, Manila TImes

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