Metro Manila wage hike next week, Aquino vows

Published by rudy Date posted on May 2, 2011

PRIVATE sector employees in Metro Manila will get a wage increase next week and those in the provinces within the month, President Benigno Aquino III said Sunday.

Criticized by militant groups for failing to announce more substantial workers’ benefits, Mr. Aquino told moderate labor groups at the palace he had ordered the regional wage boards to speed up deliberations on the increase in the minimum wage.

He said workers in Western and Eastern Visayas could also expect an order increasing their wages within the month.

“Maybe our wage boards can speed up the process for pending petitions so workers can focus on their jobs,” Mr. Aquino said.

“The rest of the tripartite wage boards are determining whether there is already a supervening factor in their areas within the month. We will be pressing them to finish within the month. We want our wage boards to be more responsive.”

The President also announced the following:

• Farmers and fishermen will receive a rice subsidy of P4.3 billion

• At least a million jobs will be made available through the Community-Based Employment Program for infrastructure projects

• Some 80,000 jobs will be open to student-applicants through the government’s Special Program for Employment of Students.

State workers, meanwhile, may expect the third installment of their salary increases in June, a month earlier than had been scheduled in the Salary Standardization Law.

The third installment would cost P2.8 billion and come from the savings from personal services, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said.

He said the government would also spend P14.9 billion for the early release of mid-year bonuses for government employees, which would cover half of their year-end bonus and half of their P5,000 cash gift.

Mr. Aquino assured workers that instead of a yearly forum every Labor Day, his administration would host quarterly meetings with labor and employers’ groups. He asked for their understanding and patience.

Not far from the Palace, left-wing labor groups led by the Kilusang Mayo Uno burned an effigy of Mr. Aquino riding a cardboard Porsche, a reference to the sports car that he had bought for P4.5 million while urging others to exercise austerity.

The Partido ng Manggagawa criticized the package of non-wage benefits announced by the President, saying his meeting with moderate labor groups was merely a photo opportunity and did not show genuine concern for workers.

“As for the job fairs, the government is making a roadshow of jobs it did not create and lauding the contractual jobs preferred by employers,” said Renato Magtubo, the group’s national chairman.

He said non-wage benefits should complement andnot supplant a wage hike.

Gabriela, a left-wing women’s rights group, attacked the administration for rejecting a P125 across-the-board minimum wage increase.

The left-leaning labor groups are demanding a legislated wage increase, which the Palace opposes. –Joyce Pangco Pañares, Manila Standard Today

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