Thursday, September 17, 2015

Group slams P13 wage hike in Metro Cebu as starvation wage

Press Release
September 16, 2015

The militant Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) slammed the P13 wage hike for workers in Metro Cebu and called it “starvation wage.” Last week the Region 7 Regional Tripartite and Productivity Board announced the salary increase that excluded workers in the region outside of Metro Cebu.

“The wage board must be joking if it thinks it can dupe workers with an exclusionary and measly pay increase. It is an insult to the groups ALU and Living Wage Coalition which petitioned for P92 and P145 wage increases respectively,” insisted Dennis Derige, PM-Cebu spokesperson.

PM is calling on ALU and the Living Wage Coalition to jointly campaign in protest at the wage board decision and rejection of their wage petitions. The campaign should pressure the National Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board which has to approve the Region 7 wage board decision.

Derige argued that “Did the workers in the rest of Cebu province and Bohol not also suffer from erosion of purchasing power? Don’t they have the same difficulties as workers in Metro Cebu in feeding their families and sending their children to school due to inflation? The wage board’s reason for granting a salary increase in Metro Cebu also holds for all workers in the region.”

“PM’s own study shows that the cost of living in Metro Cebu is around P1,000 for a family of five and yet the new minimum wage adds up to only P353, which will not even buy half of the basket of goods and services,” Derige said.

PM proposes the abolition of the wage boards and their replacement by a 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 pay increases, tax exemptions, price discounts and social security subsidies for workers,” Derige stated.

He assailed the argument of the wage board that wages outside of Metro Cebu are already too high in comparison to other cities and regions. “Wages in Region 7 are not too high but salaries in other areas are too low. The solution is not to freeze wages outside of Metro Cebu but to provide generous salary hikes to workers in other regions,” he averred.

Derige continued that “This is the ugly reality of inequality in our country. The Philippines is one of the fastest growing economies in Asia yet only a few, the capitalist class, is benefiting from the increased wealth created by the working people. The assets of the ten richest Filipinos amount to some US$50 billion, which is equivalent to the yearly wages of 20 million minimum wage earners.”

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