Monday, April 29, 2013

Workers slam non-wage benefits as candy, want wage boards scrapped

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. The group also belittled the non-wage benefits to be announced by the government as “candy for children.” Judy Miranda, PM secretary general, said that “Workers are not slaves to be given scraps by the government.”
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 Miranda.
The NWPC’s last cost of living estimate of P917 was still in 2008 and is outdated in the face of PM’s own study which reveals the a working class family’s daily expenses is now at P1,217.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.
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.
PM also slammed the Labor Day job fairs announced by Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz as a “job farce.” “These job fairs are a gimmick to cover up the truth that government is not doing anything significant to solve mass unemployment,” asserted Renato Magtubo, PM national chair.
He explained that job fairs are simply job facilitation instead of job generation. “The government is propagating the myth that the problem is job mismatch and thus the solution is job matching and facilitation. Yet the figures do not lie—the unemployment rate remains at 7%, meaning some three million Filipinos are jobless. Millions more are not officially counted as unemployed because they not anymore looking for work after months and years of desperately looking for non-existent jobs,” Magtubo lamented.
He added that “Even a college diploma does not help since 17% of the unemployed are tertiary graduates. The 400,000 jobs allegedly being offered at the May 1 job fairs will not even suffice to provide employment for the 530,000 college graduates who entered the labor force this April.”

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