Sunday, September 8, 2013

Workers to PNoy: P10 pay hike won’t make growth inclusive

Press Release
September 8, 2013

The militant Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) criticized the government’s defense of the P10 wage hike for workers in the National Capital Region by pointing out that it will not lead to inclusive growth. “President Benigno Aquino III keeps on boasting about the 7.8% increase in gross domestic product yet for him P10 in coins is all that the creators of this greater wealth can partake of!,” exclaimed Wilson Fortaleza, PM spokesperson.

He added that “PNoy’s ‘inclusive growth’ is just so much propaganda if the government cannot give workers a better share of the cake no different from the rhetoric of ‘daang matuwid’ since the administration favors reform not abolition of the pork barrel.”

Fortaleza explained that “Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte’s alibi that a bigger pay raise will lead to job losses is the usual capitalist blackmail that government has parroted for the last three decades. All that time—except for the recession years 1984, 1985, 1991 and 1998—the economy has developed even as poverty, hunger and unemployment has persisted. Without wealth redistribution—and a living wage instead of poverty pay is a key component—inequality will remain.”

PM has called on labor groups, including the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines which has rejected the P10 hike as a “painful joke,” for a coordinated campaign for a living wage. “If the middle class finds it necessary to hold a Million People March for the abolition of the pork barrel, it is imperative on the working class to launch a mass movement to end the cheap labor policy,” the group averred.

“With a P10 pay hike, how can the government expect to lift out of dire poverty the 28% of Filipinos, as revealed in the National Statistics and Coordinating Board (NSCB) survey from 2006 to 2012? With a P10 wage raise, how can the 19.2% of Filipinos who experience hunger put more food on their tables?,” Fortaleza asked.

He contended that “Valte’s excuse that the measly wage hike sought to balance workers and employers interests is a surefire formula to aggravate inequality. According to Forbes magazine, the wealth of the richest 50 Filipinos increased by an incredible 348% from 2006 to 2012 while that of the richest 10 grew by an immoral 1,005%.”

“The PhP 1.9 trillion combined wealth of the richest 10 Filipinos is equivalent to the yearly income of 21 million minimum wage earners. While the PhP 2.8 trillion total wealth of the richest 50 corresponds to the yearly pay of 31 million minimum waged workers. Based on the Global Pay Scale survey, the Philippines ranks second to the last before Tajikistan with Filipino workers average wage of US$ 279 way below the world median of US$ 1,480,” Fortaleza furthered.

As a concrete proposal, PM is advocating the replacement of the regional wage boards by a National Wage Commission. Fortaleza stated that “The mandate of the 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 pay increases, tax exemptions, price discounts and social security subsidies for workers.”

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