Monday, April 18, 2005

NR0412:Workers' camp-out for P125 on its second day

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release April 12, 2005
House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602
931-6615 Ina Alleco R. Silverio, Chief of Staff
Cellphone number 09213907362

Workers laying down an ultimatum against President Arroyo; 2,300-strong camp-out in Congress for wage and salary hikes on its second day

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today joined workers from the National Capital Region, Central Luzon, and Southern Tagalog regions in the second day of big three-day camp-out for a nationwide wage increase in front of the Main Gate of the Batasang Pambansa complex. More 2,000 workers three regions put up a picketline in front of the Congress gates, dramatizing their demand for the immediate approval and implementation of a P125 across-the-board wage hike for private sector workers, and a P3,000 salary hike, also across-the-board, for employees of the public sector.

"Workers are laying down an ultimatum against the Macapagal-Arroyo government, demanding the administration and its allies in Congress' immediate action on the wage and salary increase bills pending in the Lower House. Pres. Arroyo has been turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to the working people's calls for economic relief. It doesn't come as a surprise to anyone that there's a strong current of disgust and dissatisfaction against the President. She has continuously failed to uphold the welfare of workers," he said. He said that the House leadership will have to answer to the Filipino working class if they do not prioritize deliberations on HB 345 and HB 1064, the bills legislating a P125 wage hike and a P3,000 salary increase respectively.

Beltran said that it has been five years since the last wage hike, when former president Joseph Estrada ordered a P25.50 wage increase in 1999. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has long taken a hardline stance against wage increase, giving only a P30 emergency cost-of-living allowance in 2001, of which less than 20% of the country's workers were able to receive as the ECOLA implementing rules and regulations virtually exempted majority of minimum wage earners.

The veteran labor leader turned lawmaker said that that there were already some 70 signatures supporting HB 345, or the bill legislating a P125 across-the-board wage increase nationwide. "It's a great credit to my fellow lawmakers that they are supporting this bill, it's an important service to the workers and the Filipino people who find it more than excruciatingly difficult to make ends meet given the successive series of oil price hikes and the relentless depreciation of the peso and the real value of already law wages," he said.

"Its unconscionable that President Arroyo remains indifferent to the demands for economic relief emanating from the lower income levels and the ranks of the country's poor, yet hastens to give in to the whims and wishes of foreign creditors and investors. The series of tax measures Pres. Arroyo continues to push Congress into railroading have yet to be implemented, but already their impact is strongly felt by workers and the rest of the Filipino people: manufacturers are in a mad scramble to jack their prices, apart from adjusting these prices because of the oil price hikes," he said. "


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