May 8, 2011
On the occasion of mothers’ day, women workers from the Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) asked President Benigno Aquino to give an amount for the wage hike that he is asking employers to give. “A substantial wage hike would be PNoy’s best gift to working women on mother’s day. We therefore ask him to declare an amount that he believes should be received by workers,” said Judy Ann Miranda, PM secretary-general and a mother of one.
Tomorrow PM members will hold a rally to reiterate its support for the P75 wage petition as an immediate relief and highlight its proposal for a National Wage Commission as a long-term reform of the wage-fixing system.
“Women workers welcome PNoy’s call to the employers for a wage hike but he can do much more than broadcast an appeal. He should issue marching orders to government representatives in the wage boards to push for an amount that he considers necessary,” Miranda asserted. She 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.
“As he had done with the RH bill and Merci’s impeachment, PNoy can put teeth to his talk. He cannot get away with the alibi that the wage hike is out of his hands. All PNoy has to do is declare an amount for the wage hike and order the three government representatives in the wage board to push for it. The workers want P75, the employers say they can only give P13, so want is the amount PNoy is pushing for?” Miranda elaborated.
She however insisted that the 23-year wage boards have outlived their usefulness and should be replaced by a National Wage Commission. “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.”
A study by PM revealed that as of March this year the cost of living in Metro Manila for a family of six is already P1,010. “Even if NCR wage board approves the P75 petition, it will not be enough to bridge the huge gap between the minimum wage and the cost of living. The disparity between the P404 minimum wage and the cost of living is P606 or 150% of the ordinary wage. Even if two members work—which is the buy one, take one policy of the government—then their combined income will not be enough to feed the entire family,” Miranda asserted.