Aquino presses wage hikes

Published by rudy Date posted on May 2, 2011

Metro Manila workers first to get pay increase

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd instructed on Sunday the Regional Wage Tripartite Boards to fast track the process for wage hikes, adding that tension between workers and management is building up because of the pending wage hike petitions.

The President also announced that government workers would get their salary increases under the salary standardization and their mid-year bonuses earlier than scheduled.

Mr. Aquino said that he expects that by next week, a wage order will be out for the National Capital Region (NCR) or Metro Manila to increase wages. For other provinces, he expects the regional wage boards to issue the appropriate order within a month.

“So we will be pressing them to finalize everything, hopefully,” the President said during a chance interview after his breakfast meeting with various labor leaders in Malacañang on Sunday morning marking Labor Day.

During his speech, the President said that more than 1 million jobs will be created through the Community-Based Employment Program. Mr. Aquino also said that government had allotted P4.23-billion rice subsidy for small-scale farmers and fisher folks.

Mr. Aquino said a Special Program for Employment of Students (SPES) was also set up to give poor but deserving students the opportunity to earn while in vacation. He said the government was targeting 80,000 students to benefit from this program this year.

The President said he had instructed the Departments of Budget and Management, and of Labor and Employment to increase the budget for SPES by P168.1 million to benefit 50,000 additional students.

Government workers

Mr. Aquino also said that the third tranche of the Standardization Law (SSL) 3, amounting to P2.8 billion, would be released this June instead of July.

“Tama po ang dinig ninyo: sa June at hindi sa July ang pagtaas ng sahod ng mga taga-gobyerno [You heard it right: It will be on June and not July that the wages of government employees will be hiked],” he said.

“Pinaaga po natin yan ng isang buwan dahil alam kong malaking bagay ito, lalo na’t magpapasukan na naman. Alangan namang ipagpabukas pa natin ang kaya naman nating ibigay ngayon [We decided to give the wage hike one month earlier and this is a significant matter, especially that classes are about to open again. There is no reason to delay the wage hikes when we could give it now],” he added.

President Aquino said that the funding requirement for the advanced release of the third tranche of the SSL would come from the personal services savings of the government. This is on top of the P19.46-billion appropriated for the increase of government workers’ pay from July 1 to December 31.

Mr. Aquino said that he acknowledged the concerns of businessmen, especially those running small companies.

“Pero hindi natin kayang magbingi-bingihan sa mga daing ng ating mga minimum wage earners [But we cannot play deaf to the pleas of minimum wage earners],” he said.

Wage hike needed

With the prices of basic commodities rising, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said also on Sunday that there was now a greater need to increase the salary or non-wage benefits of workers.

She even echoed the Labor Day pronouncement of President Aquino that Regional Wage Tripartite Boards fast-track the deliberations on proposed wage increases.

“Ang desisyon sa dagdag na pasweldo ay manggagaling sa Regional Wage Tripartite Board NCR na magsisimula na ng public hearing sa May 2 at tatapusin ang deliberations ng May 5.

‘Yung iba’t ibang regional tripartite boards may iba’t ibang schedule na din [The decision for wage hikes will come from the Regional Wage Tripartite Board NCR that will start public hearings today and finish them on May 5. The various regional tripartite board also have their own schedules to hear wage hikes],” Baldoz said.

“But it [wage increases] could also be in the form of non-wage benefits like the cost of living allowance or COLA as in the past,” she added. –CRIS G. ODRONIA REPORTER wITH REPORT FROM ROMMEL C. LONTAYAO, Manila Times

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