TUCP: Wage hike lower than P75 is an insult to workers

Published by rudy Date posted on May 11, 2011

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE) A labor group on Friday urged the government to approve the P75 across-the-board wage increase for Metro Manila workers and stressed that anything less than that is an “insult.”

But the think-tank IBON Foundation said even if the P125 wage hike leftist labor unions have been demanding for years were granted “this would not be enough to give a worker’s family a decent standard of living but will at least provide them much-needed respite from skyrocketing prices.”

It said this amount “would bring the minimum wage to its highest ever real value” – P304.90 – but would only be a “15 percent cut in the profits of employers” with 20 or more workers.

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) said the increase is justified by supervening conditions like the increasing cost of commodities, basic utilities and services. The TUCP made the statement a day after Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) Francis Chua president said wage hikes were not the solution to the spiraling prices of fuel products and basic goods.

“It is unacceptable that the growth of business, the economy and the country is supported by the exploitation of workers,” the TUCP said.

Gerard Seno, national vice president of TUCP’s affiliate Association of Labor Unions (ALU), said they are also pushing for a review of the salaries of household service workers in Metro Manila, which he said is still below what they should be getting.

“A wage increase less than P75 is a direct insult and an affront to the dignity and integrity of the toiling 36 million Filipino workers,” the TUCP added.

The group filed for the wage increase in the National Capital Region last March 7 and is computed as follows:

P16.80, from actual 4.4 percent increase in prices between July 2008 and December 2010
P40.40, projected 10 percent rise in CPI between January 2011 and December 2011
P42.00, P2 per day, for every year since 1989 that there were no increases in real wages
– 22.00 wage increase granted in July 2010
P77.20 (rounded off to P75)

Currently, non-agriculture minimum wage workers in Metro Manila receive P382 per day.

However, IBON Foundation said that “inflation has eroded the minimum wage in Metro Manila to just P234.90.”

“Inflation has averaged some 3.7% since July 2010 – reaching 4.5% in April 2011 (thus) bringing down the real value of the mandated wage by P10.50 since the start of the Aquino administration,” IBON said. “This has brought down the current minimum wage in the National Capital Region (NCR) … to just Php234.90 in real terms as of April 2011, measured in 2000 prices.”

It added that “an increase of Php18.50 will merely restore the value of the minimum wage to its real value upon the start of the Aquino administration of P243.50.”

The Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) said it is willing to grant a minimum wage increase of only P13.35.

The TUCP is hoping that the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC) approve their petition on May 9 so that the wage increase could take effect as early as June 1.

Wage increases approved by the NWPC will take effect 15 days after the order has been published in a major newspaper.

Meanwhile, TUCP spokesman Rafael Mapalo slammed the wage petition argument that only 15 percent of the 36 million workforce will benefit from such increases. One argument said that 85 percent of local labor are comprised of unpaid family workers, household workers, those employed in government-owned and controlled corporations, unemployed labor, own-account workers and those who work for private establishments.

“Those employed are supporting the unemployed in the family too,” Mapalo said. “This creates a domino effect.”

Although the TUCP maintains that an increase in base pay is needed, a hike in the Emergency Cost of Living Allowance (Ecola) is acceptable as long as it does not go as low as the P13 that is being proposed by employers.

“This is anti-human and anti-nation. It’s a big insult to the workers,” the TUCP added.

Should their petition be junked, the TUCP plans to appeal it before the Supreme Court. –Joseph Holandes Ubalde, InterAksyon.com

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