The labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) declared its support for the proposal by the group ALU-TUCP for a P500 monthly food subsidy for minimum wage earners even as it called for the abolition of the regional wage boards.
Last Friday, the labor coalition Nagkaisa and the KMU held a joint protest at the Department of Labor and Employment main office in Intramuros in criticism of the recent P25 wage increase.
“The P500 subsidy is good as a short term relief but for a long-term alternative, we need to reform the wage fixing mechanism and replace wage regionalization with a national minimum wage indexed to inflation and productivity,” asserted Rene Magtubo, national chair of PM.
He stated that “As we call on organized labor to unite for the P500 subsidy, we further appeal for unity around the demand to abolish the regional wage boards.”
The P500 subsidy proposal came in the wake of the recent P25 wage increase for NCR workers. The salary hike was slammed by labor groups as too small to compensate for the erosion in workers’ wages due to inflation. PM’s cost of living estimate for a family of five in Metro Manila is around P1,300 a day.
PM argues that government and employers representatives have majority control of regional wage boards and they connive to fix wage cheap on the argument of capacity to pay. Magtubo explained that “Labor Sec. Bello himself asserted that pay increases are tempered by the criteria of capacity to pay. Why is it that when employers buy the labor power of workers, their capacity to pay is paramount but when workers buy their daily necessities, their capacity to buy is not considered? This is the double standard of capitalism!”
The group’s criticism is that there are about a hundred minimum wages in the country that are different not just across regions but even across cities and municipalities in industrial areas as Calabarzon and Central Luzon. “Wage differentials vary greatly. The NCR rate of P537 is almost double the ARMM rate of P280. Yet the cost of living is not significantly different across regions, cities and municipalities. What kind of system is this!,” Magtubo claimed. ###
Photos of the DOLE protest against the P25 wage hike can be accessed at PM’s FB page.
November 12, 2018