Tuesday, May 10, 2005

NR0510:Solon files for abolition of wage boards

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release May 10, 2005
House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602
931-6615 Ina Alleco R. Silverio, Chief of Staff
Email: paggawa@edsamail.com.ph, anakpawis2003@yahoo.com
Cellphone number 09213907362
Visit geocities.com/ap_news

Solon fills bill abolishing regional wage boards; says function of setting
wages should revert back to Congress

Less than two weeks after Pres. Arroyo called on the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) to determine a wage increase for workers, Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today led the filing of a house bill junking RA 6727 or the wage rationalization law which he said, is the most notorious and violative of workers' rights to living and decent wages. He said that RA 6727 enacted under the presidency of landlord president Corazon Cojuangco Aquino is at the crux of the very chaotic and highly exploitative wage setting system in the country. Beltran's bill, if passed, will abolish the regional wage boards and the responsibility of determining a national minimum wage will be reverted back to the national government though Congress.

"The exploitation generated by wage laws such as the infamous RA 6727, has reached monstrous proportions. The repeal of these anti-worker, anti-poor wage laws and the enactment of pro-labor laws in their stead can provide temporary reprieve for the working people, and Congress must prioritize the repeal of these measures and legislate laws that will uphold the economic welfare of workers and the rest of the working people," he said. "Congress should start the process of abolishing the regional wage boards and wage rationalization by passing HB345 which legislates a P125 across-the-board wage hike. This will also effectively abolish the wage boards and wage rationalization."

"RA 6727 which was enacted after the ouster of the Marcos dictatorship is a glaring example of a wage law enacted by the government that heightened labor exploitation to unprecedented levels.
It transformed the landlord and business-group dominated yet previously informal wage boards into formal organizations authorized to determine and execute the self-serving judgment and decision of its members from the ranks of big business and employers regarding wages. Wage rationalization was and is a violent and comprehensive attack against the economic interest of workers. The government, through this anti-labor, mercenary law, gives businesses and employers the direct power to determine the ultimate level of exploitation that they can impose on the working people," he said.

"The granting of powers to the regional wage boards also dispersed the battle lines on the wage issue to other regions where, away from the scrutiny of militant public opinion, the landlord and bourgeois comprador classes hold firmer control. The creation of these regional wage boards had the effect of blunting the power of the country's militant labor movement to fight for nationwide and across-the-board wage increases through concentrated political battles in the National Capital Region (NCR) or in other centers of the government's authority and power," he said.

The veteran labor leader turned lawmaker also said that the law also shields the Philippine government from direct accountability for the increased and worsened poverty of workers, correspondent to the increased magnitude of exploitation borne by the law's disastrous effects. "Governments since the Aquino regime have been shrugging off its responsibility of determining a single national wage hike, and pointing workers towards the regional wage boards where workers' demands for substantial and much needed wage hikes are thrown down the garbage chute," he said.

Beltran said that since the 1950s, the productivity of the Filipino people has increased annually and at a steady rate. "Wages paid to direct producers - the workers, however - averaged only to 30% of the wealth produced from 1951 to 1998. The biggest part of the unpaid value workers produced or about 38% is spent to finance the extravagant lifestyles of the rich and ruling sectors of society which constitutes only three percent of the country's population. About 12% is spent to finance the constant deficits in the one-sided colonial trade and to fund government operations: more than 60% of which are either spent on payments of local and foreign debt payments or lost to corruption," he said.

He also pointed out that RA 6727, at the very first instance, ensured that the interest of landlords remained tightly entrenched by pegging the wages in feudal estates such as Hacienda Luisita lower by 34.27% compared to wages of workers in the service and industrial sectors. The law also discriminates against agricultural workers in Metro Manila who receive wages 14.24%-17.85% less than the wages of workers in the other sectors.

Consequently, the disparity between the wage levels for Metro Manila and the provinces, even for workers in the service and industrial levels, widened. Whereas wages for the two sectors throughout the Philippines were equal at P89.00 in 1989, a disparity of P4.81 or 4.5% appeared the following year and increased to P71.17 or 28% by 2001. The wide disparity between wages in Metro Manila and wages in the provinces created by the landlord bourgeois comprador-controlled regional wage boards induced multinational corporations to relocate to the provinces particularly in the export processing zones. #


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