Calabarzon workers slammed the hike in minimum wages in the region as “loose change that will be wiped out by rising inflation.” Several labor groups active in Calabarzon trooped this afternoon to the main gate of the Cavite Economic Zone, the country’s biggest government-managed export processing zone, to protest low pay and union busting.
The regional wage board in Calabarzon ordered pay hikes of P14 to P21.50 thus increasing minimum wages to P303 to P400 depending on the area. The minimum wage hike takes effect tomorrow. The last wage hike in the region was in July 2016.
“A 4.6% rise in prices will erase the P16.50 minimum wage increase in Rosario. From 2.9% last December, inflation has steadily risen to 4.3% this March. By the time the wage hike is implemented tomorrow, it will not redound to any real wage improvement,” asserted Dennis Sequena, coordinator of the Cavite chapter of Partido Manggagawa (PM).
More than a hundred members of labor groups PM, Sentro, Samahang Nagkakaisa ng Cavite, and Katipunan ng Manggagawang Pilipino picketed the Cavite ecozone. The mass action is also a buildup to the massive labor unity rally of workers for the Labor Day commemoration on Monday.
“Workers in the Cavite ecozone are organizing to improve their wages and working conditions but capitalists are illegally busting unions and harassing workers,” Sequena explained.
Last week, garments factory Dong Seung Inc. at the Cavite ecozone terminated en masse all 16 union officers including the union president. In response, the union filed a notice of strike and a strike vote will be held tomorrow. Yesterday management did not attend the mediation meeting convened by the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB).
Meanwhile, a complaint for harassment was filed by the union at another apparel company, Jisoo Garments Manufacturing Corp. Jisoo workers are alleging that management is behind a falsification case filed against union officers. The case came just after a certification election was held in the company. Among the grievances of workers at Dong Seung and Jisoo that led to unionization was that salaries for all workers, new or old, including people who have worked for several years, remained stuck at the minimum level.
PM also criticized the two-tiered wage system in Calabarzon for being an instrument for cheapening wages. Sequena insisted that “In the two-tiered system, the minimum wage is just a floor wage that will be supplemented by productivity-based increases. But companies in the Cavite ecozone do not provide for productivity pay hikes even though labor productivity has continuously grown as measured by the annual GDP growth.”
April 27, 2018