The country’s biggest labor group, the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines called on President Rodrigo Duterte to overhaul the aging and obsolete regional wage boards because they no longer faithfully balance the interest of workers in the equation of labor and capital.
In a statement, ALU-TUCP spokesperson Alan Tanjusay said a serious and genuine reform of the Regional Tripartite Productivity and Wages Board is needed as evidenced by the P25 wage hike in the National Capital Region, which was not supported by any formula or computations.
The Partido ng Manggagawa urged the President to abolish the regional wage boards because they do not serve the millions of minimum wage workers, but only capitalists.
PM chairman Wilson Fortaleza said President Duterte should endorse a national minimum wage instead of regional salaries.
“In a dialogue with labor groups in 2017, the President denounced what he called ‘provincial wages’ and expressed preference for a nationwide minimum wage. Now is the time for President Duterte to turn mere words into decisive action,” he said.
“Since the President expressed disgust at provincial wages, he apparently knows that the policy of wage regionalization started in 1989 has led to the cheapening of labor. An evaluation of the policy performance of wage regionalization will show that it has consistently resulted in measly salary hikes that are below inflation rates and disregard economic growth” Fortaleza said.
“Wage differentials vary greatly. For example, the difference between the NCR rate of P512 and the ARMM rate of P280 is a whopping 45 percent. Yet the cost of living is not significantly different across regions, cities and municipalities. What kind of system is this!” the labor group said.
“A national minimum wage should be indexed to both inflation and productivity. Real wages have not risen from 2001 to 2016 even as labor productivity has grown by 50 percent in that period. In other words, the pie has become bigger but workers have not received crumbs even. Instead employers have greedily taken all the increase in the size of the pie. Workers have been denied their fair share in the fruits of production,” Fortaleza said.
Tanjusay said the regional wage boards should fulfill their mandate to balance the interests of workers and business in these modern times.
“It is high time to reform the 28-year-old aging and obsolete wage adjustment system,” he added.
Vice President Leni Robredo welcomed the P25 wage hike in Metro Manila but said it was not enough.
Kabayan Party-list Rep. Ron Salo, deputy majority leader, however, supported the P25 daily increase.
“If a minimum daily wage earner works 20 days in a month, the P25 increase means about P500 for the month,” Salo said.
“Critics would say that it is too little. Yet, 500 pesos is still 500 pesos and it helps our workers recover some of the purchasing power consumers lost when inflation rose.”
Salo said, “the wage increase is in addition to the efforts of the government in improving rice supply and greater access of the poor to discounted basic goods.” With Maricel V. Cruz