May 10, 2011
The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) criticized the P22 cost of living allowance (COLA) approved by the NRC wage board as “bad news instead of the good news promised by PNoy.” Renato Magtubo, PM national chair said that “Like in the Philippine Airlines dispute, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz is again the bearer of bad news. Nonetheless PNoy is to squarely blame. Instead of appealing to employers, he should have told the three government representatives in the wage board to push for a wage hike not a COLA. This will set a trend for the rest of the wage boards which will probably also grant a COLA instead of a wage hike”
This morning PM picketed the Department of Labor and Employment in protest at the wage board decision. The group called for the abolition of the regional wage boards and their replacement by a National Wage Commission.
“The government representatives in the wage board heard not PNoy’s call for a wage hike but the employers’ plea for cheap labor. Once more the wage boards have betrayed the workers. The P22 COLA is symbolic of the wage boards’ 22-years of service to the capitalists rather than the workers,” Magtubo insisted.
“The COLA is a misnomer since it is supposed to bridge the gap between the take home pay and the cost of living. But the cost of living in the NCR is already P1,010 as of March for a family of six and yet the minimum wage plus COLA adds up to only P426, which is will not even buy half of the basket of goods and services,” Magtubo explained.
He added that “PNoy should have put teeth to his talk. All PNoy had to do was declare an amount for the wage hike and order the three government representatives in the wage board to push for it. But instead of marching orders to the government representatives in the wage boards, he was content with a futile appeal to the capitalists.”
He explained that in every wage board, the regional director of the Department of Labor and Employment chairs while two more government representatives come from the Department of Trade and Industry and the National Economic Development Authority. Two representatives each from the workers and employers complete the seven-person wage board.
Magtubo argued that the wage boards have outlived their usefulness and should be replaced by a Wage Commission. He stated that “The mandate of the National Wage Commission will be to fix wages based on the single criterion of cost of living. This is different from the wage boards which are bogged down by convoluted and contradictory 10-point criteria in fixing wages. The Wage Commission should raise the minimum wage to the level of the living wage by a mix of mechanisms such as direct wage increases, tax exemptions, price discounts and social security subsidies for workers.”