Labor groups push for wage hike, end to contractualization*
Saturday, April 30, 2011
MANILA — Various groups confirmed plans to seek from the government improved conditions for workers nationwide while Malacañang is set to announce a package of non-wage benefits for workers as part of Sunday’s Labor Day celebration.
“We’ll push for increased wages and an end to contractualization in the workplace,” National Labor Union president Dave Diwa said during the Kapihan sa QC forum at Annabel’s Restaurant in Quezon City on Saturday.
Workers will also call for Malacañang’s action on other labor-related concerns of national importance like power cost and taxes, he added.
President Benigno Aquino III is set to have a breakfast dialogue with leaders of major labor groups on Sunday.
According to Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, 90 labor leaders from 17 groups have confirmed attendance to the dialogue.
Some of these groups include the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, Alliance of Filipino Workers, Alliance of Progressive Labor, National Confederation of Labor, National Union of Bank Employees, and the Philippine Association of Migrant Workers and Advocates.
Left-wing group Kilusang Mayo Uno was not invited to the dialogue.
“Dati inanyahan namin yan pero ang kanilang preference ay hindi makilahok. May separate sila na programa at yan naman ay nirerespeto natin dahil ito ay kanilang araw (We used to invite them, but their preference is not to attend. They have a separate program and we respect that because it’s their day),”Baldoz explained.
Early this month, Malacañang announced there will be “good news” on Labor Day to help workers cope with the rising prices of oil and basic commodities.
However, this did not refer to wage increase.
“We all eagerly await the news from the President tomorrow (Sunday) so it will be a big day for all of us tomorrow,” Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said Saturday over government-run dzRB radio.
Valte refused to give additional details on the Labor Day gift of the government, avoiding preempting the President’s announcement.
Anakpawis Executive Vice President Joel Maglunsod said Malacañang must certify as urgent bills proposing wage hikes in both public and private sectors.
Such action is already due as the country’s last legislated wage hike was in 1989 when government approved a P30 across-the-board increase, he noted.
“Government says a wage hike will be inflationary and will create a myriad of negative repercussions but we say it’s time for this since prices are rising,” he said at the forum.
He maintains a wage hike is viable at this time.
Citing results of National Statistics Office’s 2008 survey, he said companies with over 20 employees each collectively realized then profits of about P895.2 billion.
Implementing a P125 across-the-board wage hike means such companies will spend only P135.6 billion for workers’ salaries.
Companies concerned will still net a profit of P759.6 billion even if workers’ salaries are deducted from total revenues, he noted.
“The problem is employers don’t want to increase their workers’ salaries as they don’t want their profit margins diminished,” he said.
In its statement for Labor Day, Workers Action for Reforms (WAR) reported the prevailing minimum daily wage for an eight-hour work in various regions nationwide, except National Capital Region (NCR) and Calabarzon “is below or slightly above the poverty threshold.”
Government’s estimated Philippine poverty threshold in 2009 was P7,953 for a family of five, WAR noted.
WAR further said prevailing minimum wages outside NCR and Calabarzon range from P187 to P316, making life difficult for people concerned.
Diwa pointed out government must eradicate labor contractualization because this practice undermines the potential of workers--mostly college graduates in their early to mid-20s and raring to work—aside from failing to bring forth security of tenure in the workplace.
“They’re hired for five months, then fired,” he said.
Maglunsod also said contractualization, oil deregulation and trade liberalization are among factors preventing small and medium enterprises from truly becoming competitive.
Meanwhile, the labor secretary also invited jobseekers to attend the Labor Day Job and Livelihood Fair with at least 190,000 job vacancies from 2,000 employers.
The main Labor Day Job and Livelihood Fair will be held in the Lagoon Area of the Rizal Park between Maria Orosa St. and Roxas Blvd.
The regional jobs and livelihood fair will be at the SM Baguio and Baguio Convention Center in the Cordillera Administrative Region; SM Rosales, Pangasinan in Ilocos Region; Francisco L. Dy Coliseum, Cauayan, Isabela in Cagayan Valley; SM San Fernando, Pampanga and SM Baliwag, Bulacan in Central Luzon; SM Sta. Rosa, Laguna and SM Rosario, Cavite in Calabarzon; Divine World College, Calapan City in Mimaropa; SM Naga City in Bicol Region; SM Iloilo and SM Bacolod in Western Visayas; and SM Cebu City, Cebu International Convention Center, Abellana Sports Complex City, Cebu City and Macias Sports Complex, Dumaguete City in Central Visayas.
Other venues are as follows: Tacloban City Convention Center in Western Visayas; Western Mindanao State University Gymnasium, Zamboanga City, and Gaisano Capital, Pagadian City in Zamboanga Peninsula; SM Cagayan de Oro in Northern Mindanao; and, SM Davao, Gaisano Mall Davao in Davao Region; KCC Mall in General Santos, Plaza Pavilion in Kidapawan City and the South Seas Mall, at Don R, Alfonso St., Cotabato City in Central Mindanao; and Dole regional office in Caraga. (Kathrina Alvarez/PNA/Sunnex)