Monday, April 29, 2013

Workers call for abolition of wage board, NWPC

Press Release
April 29, 2013

In a picket today at the offices of the National Capital Region wage board and the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC), the militant Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) call for the abolition of the two agencies. PM denounced the NWPC and NCR wage board for being inutile and instruments of the wage freeze policy.

“The NCR wage board and the NWPC do not just share the same office, they also share the same wage freeze policy that favors the capitalists and disadvantages the workers,” declared Judy Miranda, PM secretary general.

The NWPC’s last cost of living estimate of P917 was still in 2008 and is outdated in the face of PM’s own study which reveals the a working class family’s daily expenses is now at P1,217. The cost of living estimate is therefore is almost three times the current minimum wage of P456 mandated by the NCR wage board.

About a hundred workers picketed the NCR wage board and NWPC office in Malate, Manila. The picket is also a buildup activity for the coming Labor Day commemoration. The call for a legislated wage hike will be one of the highlights of the big May Day rally. On the eve of Labor Day, PM will hold an overnight vigil of several hundred workers and poor at Mendiola to press for its demands against contractualization and high prices.

The group called the minimum wages prevailing in the country as starvation wages. Yesterday, to illustrate this point, a PM member went to the market today to buy life’s necessities using an amount equivalent to the minimum wage in the National Capital Region (NCR).

“The minimum wage cannot buy a working class family their daily bread. The Constitution mandates that a worker receive a living wage. Instead the regional wage boards prescribed a libing wage,” asserted Miranda.

"Our own estimate shows that the gap between the P456 minimum wage in the NCR and the present cost of living is a yawning P761 or 167% of the ordinary wage. Even if both parents 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," stated Miranda.

The group’s cost of living estimate did not provide for savings and social security which in the government’s basket of goods and services constitutes 10% of the cost of living. Furthermore, PM's study did not include items such as leisure and recreation, and the family budget for health excluded medical expenses. Miranda said that "If we include such items, and we must in a more accurate survey, then the cost of living will significantly exceed P1,200 per day."

The group is advocating for the establishment of a National Wage Commission. “The National Wage Commission is different in that its mandate is to fix wages based on the single criterion of cost of living. And despite the huge gap between the present minimum wage and the current cost of living, the National Wage Commission can achieve equalizing the two by a host of mechanisms among which are direct wage increases, tax exemptions, price discounts and social security subsidies for workers,” Miranda explained.

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