Walk the talk, Aquino urged

Published by rudy Date posted on May 7, 2011

MANILA, Philippines—Labor groups on Friday assailed employers’ announcement that they could only afford an P13 daily pay increase and President Benigno Aquino III’s refusal to certify as urgent a bill seeking a P125 across-the-board wage hike pending in Congress.

Members of the Kilusang Mayo Uno picketed Mendiola Bridge near Malacanang on Friday and expressed displeasure over Aquno’s rejection of a legislated wage hike.

“We are not surprised but we are appalled nonetheless. We are calling on the House of Representatives and the Senate to legislate a wage increase because we know that we workers do not stand a chance of getting a substantial wage hike through the regional wage boards. We only have a chance of getting a substantial wage hike through legislation,” Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general, told reporters.

Dismayed

The moderate labor group Trade Union of the Philippines also said it was “enormously dismayed” by the Employers Confederation of the Philippines’ P13-offer. The TUCP, however, said it “appreciates” Aquino’s call for the wage boards to speed up the wage determination process.

“While TUCP is for striking a balance between the capacity of business to pay and the worker’s cry for regular jobs and wage increase, we are enormously dismayed at Ecop’s proposal. Thank you but this is not right and P13 is not enough. It’s a big insult and blow to the Filipino family which has been struggling to cope with the high prices of commodities. It’s not right that those who support the viability of business in the country would be the ones exploiting the workers,” Rafael Mapalo, TUCP deputy spokesperson, said in a text message.

“He has to walk the talk… only then can he prove that he is doing something (for the workers) and not just after ‘pogi (handsome) points,” added Partido ng Manggagawa chair Renato Magtubo in a separate statement.

Widespread discontent

Mapalo said a lower-than-expected wage hike might trigger social unrest. “We are afraid that this will lead to widespread discontent and violence. We do not like that to happen,” he said.

The TUCP has a pending petition before the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board seeking a P75 daily wage increase for Metro Manila workers, who are currently earning P404 a day.

In Congress, a proposal by Mr. Aquino to have companies adopt profit-sharing schemes in lieu of wage hike adjustments received mixed reactions.

Northern Samar Rep. Emil Ong, chair of the House committee on labor, said that labor deserved to get at least 25 percent share of the profits of businesses.

“There’s logic to that, especially the high earning industries like public utilities and water-based industries such as soft drinks, liquor and also luxury and tobacco industries,” said Ong.

Ong said that profit sharing would spur workers to boost their production since they would get a share of their company’s success.

Mandatory profit-share

Valenzuela Rep. Magtanggol Gunigundo said that he would push for a bill seeking to impose a mandatory profit-sharing among companies. Gunigundo noted that employers were not “altruistic” by nature and it would take a law to force them to adopt this plan.

In a speech before a group of employers, Mr. Aquino said that business should consider making their workers as partners rather than mere “input costs.”

“We are advocating and we are asking: Can we not come up with an incentive program for our workers if there is an opportunity? Should we not encourage going back to the fundamentals which are labor and management working together as keys to any company’s success?” Mr. Aquino said.

Gabriela Rep. Emmi de Jesus, however, was skeptical about the proposal. “I don’t think businessmen will ever agree to profit sharing. This is demonstrated in their stand against a legislated wage increase,” she said. –Jerome Aning, Gil C. Cabacungan Jr., Philippine Daily Inquirer

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