Sunday, May 21, 2023

Nagkaisa debunks business groups’ arguments against legislated wage increase

The Nagkaisa Labor Coalition strongly refutes the preposterous and misleading argument put forth by certain business groups that only a minority will benefit from the proposed legislative wage increase and as a result, raising wages will send 50 million workers begging for ayuda.

The business groups recently claimed that increasing wages would only benefit a small percentage of the total workforce, stating that approximately 16 percent or about eight million workers in the formal sector out of the total 50 million Filipino workers would be eligible for the wage hike.

This line of argument tries to draw a trade-off between workers in the formal and informal sector to diffuse employers’ direct accountability to their workers, hoping that by painting this ‘little-to-no effect’ and hyperinflation scenario, lawmakers would reconsider passing a legislated wage measure.

We contend that the miserable state of the 50 million workers or more, which is a bigger agenda than a wage hike, is not for the workers to solve but for the government and the capitalist class which failed to address problems of chronic poverty and inequality in the country for decades.

And certainly, keeping minimum wages at starvation level perpetuates the problem, thus, telling minimum wage workers to sacrifice further on behalf of their poorer brothers and sisters in the working class does not solve anything except the comfort of businesses to keep their profit margins when wages are kept at bare minimum.

The employers' arguments fail to consider the broader economic effects and undermine the crucial role of fair wages in driving sustainable growth. Contrary to their claims, raising wages will have a significant positive impact on the economy and the majority of Filipino workers.

It is vital to recognize that the well-being of workers and economic growth are interconnected. By ensuring fair wages for a significant portion of the workforce, we can create a positive ripple effect that stimulates economic activity, increases consumer spending power, and fosters social progress. The 16 percent of workers who will experience increased wages will contribute to a healthier economic climate, benefiting businesses and workers alike.

In addition, the economic benefits of wage increase can help address the persistent issue of malnutrition in the Philippines. UNICEF data reveals the severity of malnutrition in the country, with devastating consequences for the future of Filipino children. Every day, 95 children die from malnutrition, and twenty-seven out of 1,000 Filipino children do not get past their fifth birthday. Shockingly, one-third of Filipino children are stunted, meaning they are short for their age. Stunting after the age of 2 can have permanent, irreversible, and even fatal effects. Needless to say, malnutrition is the culprit behind the country’s dismal below-average IQ ranking of the Philippines in the World Population Review 2023 (WPR).

These distressing statistics underscore the urgent need for action. A significant wage increase plays a crucial role in combating malnutrition by enabling families to afford nutritious food, access healthcare, and provide a better quality of life for their children. By addressing the root causes of malnutrition through improved wages, we can protect the future generation of Filipinos from the devastating effects of undernutrition.

We maintain that the first key advantage of higher wages is that workers have more money at their disposal. With increased purchasing power, workers are empowered to spend on essential goods and services, thereby driving consumer demand. This heightened consumer spending not only benefits businesses directly but also stimulates overall economic activity, contributing to a positive economic cycle.

Secondly, higher wages can foster employee loyalty and motivation. When workers are fairly compensated for their efforts, they feel valued and are more likely to be engaged and productive in their roles. This improved productivity can enhance business efficiency and output, further bolstering economic growth.

Likewise, a workforce with higher wages projects stability and helps attract investments. Investors are drawn to countries or regions where workers have decent wages, as it signifies a stable and growing consumer base. Such countries are viewed as favorable investment destinations due to the potential for increased sales and profitability. By implementing higher wages, nations can position themselves as attractive markets for both domestic and foreign investment, spurring economic development and job creation.

Therefore, it is crucial for policymakers and businesses to recognize that investing in workers through higher wages yields significant long-term benefits. The positive effects cascade throughout the economy, generating a multiplier effect that contributes to overall prosperity.

Nagkaisa Labor Coalition

Monday, May 8, 2023

Make the happy bills happen now—labor group on legislated wage hike

Photo from Vera Files

The labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) welcomed the announcement of Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri that they will facilitate the passage of a legislated across-the-board P150 salary hike but also called on the House of Representatives to fast-track its counterpart bill.


A P150 across-the-board wage hike is indeed a happy bill since it will uplift workers' lives and not just because it is a pet advocacy of legislators. Make the happy bills happen now!,” stated Rene Magtubo, PM national chair and a Marikina city councilor.


“We could not agree more with Senator Zubiri that private sector minimum wages have been eroded by inflation and are less than half the Constitutionally-mandated living wage. Thus, the imperative for immediate relief for workers through a legislated wage hike which Congress has the power to enact. Workers are suffering from starvation wages. Instead of a living wage, workers are paid a libing wage,” Magtubo explained.


Using the latest consumer price index data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, the group calculates that P88 has been eroded from the P570 minimum wages of Metro Manila workers as of the January inflation of 8.7%. Inflation in areas outside of the National Capital Region is even higher. However, the cost of living for a family of five is estimated by PM to be around P1,300 per day.


“The labor movement must link up arms to win war, that is to fight for a wage increase for wage recovery. The working class needs champions in and out of Congress but only unity and action of workers can defeat the resistance of employers to a wage hike,” Magtubo asserted.


PM also asked Senator Zubiri to consider the long-standing demand for the abolition of the regional wage boards which discriminate against workers outside Metro Manila. “Instead, we demand a National Wage Commission with the power to adjust wages on the basis of price increases and productivity growth. Even before the recent inflation, wages have stagnated amidst a decade and half of 50% rise in labor productivity. This means that employers have monopolized economic growth and workers have been left behind,” Magtubo elaborated.


He added that “Further, we are proposing a policy package called Apat na Dapat. First, wage hikes. Second, abolition of regressive taxes like VAT and application of progressive taxation such as a wealth tax on oligarchs and billionaires. Third, social security subsidies for informal workers. Fourth, discounts on basic commodities. These will protect and improve the wages and incomes of workers in the formal and informal economy.” 

 Press Release

Partido Manggagawa

May 8, 2023

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Nagkaisa Labor Coalition Urges Gov't to Take Bold Steps to Address Workers' Issues

Photo from PhilStar

The largest labor coalition in the country is calling on the Marcos administration to take concrete actions to address the issues and concerns of workers, as the country is among the 24 shortlisted countries for examination during the upcoming International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva in June. This comes as the Philippines marks its 75th year of membership in the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The Nagkaisa Labor Coalition highlights that the Philippines is included in the long list of ILO Committee on the Application of Standards (CAS) due to 69 reported killings of trade union leaders and organizers, and about 400 other violations of Convention 87.

Nagkaisa holds that the lack of representation from workers and employers in the current Executive Order 23 (EO23) signed by President Bongbong Marcos also contributed to the Philippines' inclusion in the list.

While it is a positive step forward, the current EO23 fails to address the significant problem that workers face in exercising their freedom to form unions or associations. To address this issue, the coalition proposes its amendments to transform it into a tripartite commission, consisting of representatives from the government and representatives from workers’ and employers’ groups in accordance with the principle of "tripartism and social dialogue" of ILO Convention 144 and the principles of "shared responsibility" and "participation in decision-making' under the Constitution and the Labor Code. This body would serve as the primary mechanism for addressing worker issues and seeking justice for the countless victims of violations of Freedom of Association (FOA) and Trade Union (TU) rights.

Trade unions heard Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma on his call to proposed solutions or positive actions. Thus, Nagkaisa urges him to schedule a meeting with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for trade union leaders to present personally the proposed amendments to the EO and other suggestions in order to improve the situation of workers and hold those accountable for violations of FOA and TU rights.

The coalition emphasizes that unless the government takes substantial steps to demonstrate its intention to heed the recommendations of the ILO High-Level Tripartite Mission (HLTM) beyond the issuance of  EO23, the country will undoubtedly face scrutiny by the ILO.

It is time for the government to act and demonstrate its dedication to upholding the principles of decent work and social justice for all. 

May 7, 2023

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Laguesma wants the accused to be the judge

Photo from Pag-ibig



The militant labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) slammed Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma’s rationale for excluding workers’ representatives in the newly created Inter-Agency Committee for the Protection of the Freedom of Association and Right to Organize of Workers.


“Secretary Laguesma wants the accused to be the judge in labor rights cases. If we follow Laguesma’s faulty logic that complainants cannot be the judge then more so the accused. Laguesma’s logic betrays his class war framework that pays lip service to social dialogue principles. The demand that workers’ representatives sit in the Inter-Agency Committee is aligned with the normative tenet of tripartism in resolving labor cases and disputes,” stated Rene Magtubo, PM national chair.


On the eve of Labor Day, an Executive Order signed by President Bongbong Marcos created the Inter-Agency Committee with Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin as chair, Laguesma as vice chair and includes other government agencies but excludes trade unions and employers’ groups. The security sector, specifically the Department of National Defense, National Security Council and the Philippine National Police, sits in the Inter-Agency Committee.


“Security forces are the usual respondents, along with several employers, in the 380 cases involving killings, abductions, arrests, harassments and red-tagging of unionists detailed in the report of the workers to the International Labour Organization’s High-Level Tripartite Mission (ILO HLTM) last January,” Magtubo elaborated.


He added that “Laguesma’s slip is showing. What can workers expect from a Labor Secretary that makes lame excuses for banning trade unions? This behavior may be expected of the government’s security forces but cannot be the attitude of a Labor Secretary.”


The creation of the Inter-Agency Committee was the government response to the ILO HLTM recommendations. The annual ILO conference next month will consider if the Philippine government had adequately responded to the recommendations.


Magtubo insisted that “We ask the government to heed fully the ILO HLTM recommendations, especially for a Presidential Commission that includes workers’ representatives. The clock is ticking as the ILO annual conference is due to open in a month’s time.”


Some 10,000 workers in last Monday’s huge Labor Day rally in Manila and similar labor unity protests in other cities called for respect for the right to unionize along with demands for a wage hike and an end to contractualization. 

Press Release

May 4, 2023

Monday, May 1, 2023

“Chi-cha not cha-cha” top nationwide Labor Day calls

Kababaihang manggagawa nanguna sa hiling na P100 dagdag-sahod 


Demands for a salary hike and ayuda for the poor instead of changing the Constitution were among the workers’ issues highlighted in the nationwide protests today. “We endured the heat of marching under the sun because the burning issue of low wages and high prices is a priority concern. Chi-cha not cha-cha,” declared Rene Magtubo, national chair of the militant group Partido Manggagawa (PM) and a city councilor in Marikina, in reference to an urgent response to the economic crisis instead of politicians tinkering with charter change.


PM also lambasted a newly drafted Executive Order (EO) creating an inter-agency committee on labor rights. The group argued that the EO falls short of the recommendations of the International Labour Organization (ILO) high-level tripartite mission (HLTM) for the President to personally direct the committee and was crafted without dialogue with workers and employers. “Where is the President? The fact that President Bongbong Marcos is abroad today mirrors his absence in the inter-agency committee and reveals his utter disregard for improving the rights and welfare of workers,” Magtubo stated.


PM members assembled at 7:00 am at the Petron Blumentritt along Espana in Manila before marching towards Mendiola. The main Labor Day mobilization in Manila was led by the coalition All Philippine Trade Unions which brings together the groups Nagkaisa, Trade Union Center of the Philippines, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP). Similar rallies were held in the cities of Cebu, Bacolod, Davao, Iligan, General Santos, Cotabato and Tagum.


“Sahod, Trabaho, Karapatan” was the theme of the nationwide protests. “We call for a P100 minimum wage hike to recover the lost purchasing power of workers. Also, we demand an end to endo and the return of regular employment as the norm. Finally, we ask the government to heed the ILO HLTM proposals on protecting labor rights in the country,” Magtubo explained.


In Metro Cebu, PM assembled at the Plaza Independencia at 8:00 am before marching to Metro Gaisano in Colon for the joint rally of the coalition Sugbuanong Mamumuo Nagkahiusa Alang sa Living Wage (SANA AL). Some 1,000 workers marched for the demand for wage hike and regular jobs. The highlight of the protest was the destruction of a makeshift statue of Sen. Robin Padilla by a giant hammer (maso) to symbolize the workers’ fight against cha-cha.


In Iloilo City, the coalition United Labor led the march of some 1,500 workers at 2:30 pm to the Capitol grounds. The unions at Pepsi, Coke, URC and Iloilo Doctors were among the participants together with a contingent from the Iloilo Grab Riders Union (IGRU). The IGRU is the first union established among Grab riders in the country.


In Bacolod, some 3,000 workers joined the United Labor of Negros rally at the city Public Plaza. Sugar workers trooped to Bacolod City for the Labor Day protest of the groups PM, KMU, NACUSIP, BMP, CAILO, BUNYOG and BACOD. Unrest is brewing among sugar workers due to the early onset of tiempo muerto (dead season) as a result of the sugar crisis.


In Iligan, the Federation of Democratic Labor Organizations (FDLO) led the Labor Day march around the city which ended at the city plaza. PM, Mindanow, and other civil society organizations joined the FDLO rally. 

Press Release

May 1, 2023