Youth solon pushes anew for across-the-board P125 wage hike on Labor Day
There is no disputing that a wage hike is urgent and necessary. But as various labor groups, economists and government agencies put forward differing suggestions on how wages should be increased, Kabataan Partylist Representative Raymond Palatino today said an across-the-board P125 legislated wage increase nationwide is “the most humane, reasonable and responsive to the needs of the toiling masses burdened by the soaring prices of goods and services.”
The youth solon made the statement following various wage hike proposals made by different workers’ groups and sectors: P90 from the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, P8 by the Employers Confederation of the Philippines and P13 to P21 according to the Department of Labor and Employment. Palatino echoed the call of militant labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno, which has been calling for a legislated wage hike in the private sector for more than a decade.
“Until now, the government has been relying on the regional wage boards to consider and address issues related to wage increases. Sadly, RWBs have only been providing very measly and sparse wage hikes that do nothing to help workers cope with incessant price increases of oil and basic commodities. The creation of these wage boards practically abolished the national minimum wage and resulted to a decline in real wages and purchasing power of worker over the years,” Palatino said. Since wage boards were created in 1989, the highest wage increase granted by RWBs was P36 in Central Luzon in 2002.
Progressive legislators in Congress have been pushing for a legislated wage hike since the 11th Congress, but up to this day, Congress has yet to enact these legislative proposals. During the 13th Congress, legislators approved an earlier version of the bill filed by the late Anakpawis solon and labor leader Crispin Beltran by a vote of 151-0. The workers’ victory, however, was only short-lived as the bill was not immediately transmitted to the Senate and was recalled months after.
“Congress could only live up to its name of being the representatives of the people by heeding the resounding call of ordinary Filipinos instead of succumbing to the lies and deception of big businessmen and economists whose brand of economics has been discredited by history itself. The issue of wage increases presents to the government two choices: either it upholds the rights of its workers to decent wages or protect the continuous accumulation of excess profits of corporations,” the activist-solon said.
Big businesses and some government economic planners constantly argue that a legislated wage hike would shake the economy and force firms to close, perpetually raising the specter of inflation when a wage increase is in the offing.
Palatino, however, said that pitting wage increases against lay-offs and price increases is merely an “underhanded tactic employed by greedy big businesses in order to justify an unjustifiable appetite for profit. The P125 wage increase would not lead to lay-offs and price increases if only corporations could afford to give up a portion of their profits.” A study by think-tank Ibon Foundation shows that the P125 across-the-board wage hike amounts to a mere 12% reduction in capitalists’ profits.
Palatino added that the government cannot say that wage hikes would cause the closure of factories, particularly of small and medium enterprises as “the main threat to domestic industries is not wage increase, but government policies that favor foreign corporations who receive import privileges, tax holidays, and other incentives, and allow them to monopolize vital industries.”
“The absurd assumption that the accumulation of capital and the continuous profiteering of big corporations keep the economy rolling should be dismissed by the government. When the State continues to press down on workers’ wages and refuse to address their genuine concerns such as contractualization and unfair labor practices, it ceases to serve the workers who form the backbone of our economy,” Palatino said.