Sunday, May 15, 2005

NR0511:Price controls good, but workers need cash

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release May 11, 2005
House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602
931-6615 Ina Alleco R. Silverio, Chief of Staff
Cellphone number 09213907362

Price controls well and good, but an P125 wage increase more
urgent and necessary - Rep. Beltran

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today said that House majority leader Prospero Nograles and the leadership of the House were evading the real issue at hand regarding the increasing prices of commodities an and the inability of the poor and working people to meet the rising costs of living.

"Price controls and regulating the market of basic goods are all well and good and even necessary; but before we begin heightening the level of debate and looking for bigger measures to help the Filipino people, Congress should prove that it has the will and sincerity to push for the legislation of a P125 across-the-board wage increase and the abolition of wage rationalization," he said.

"Inflation is always on the rise, inching higher and higher on a steady basis ; but it's been five years since the last genuine wage increase. Wages have been rationalized since 1989, and since then wages have been pegged to the floor and the wage levels decrease the farther one goes from the National Capital Region. The quality of life of workers are decidedly worse in the provinces, particularly where the export processing zones and industrial enclaves are located because wages there are even lower," he said.

"Workers continue to bring to Congress' attention the urgent need for a substantial increase of P125 in their wages. This would throw a lifeline to at least 164 million wage workers and salaried employees currently swamped in a storm of endless oil price hikes, tuition fee increases, transport fare hikes, higher power and water rates and rising living costs. This would also benefit non-wage workers, small entrepreneurs and by restoring the purchasing power of wage-earners and, hence, boost demand for products and services in the country," he said.

Beltran said Majority leader Nograles should honor the promise he made to Labor Committee chair Zamboanga del Norte Rep. Roseller Barinaga and the pro-P125 solons led by representatives of Anakpawis, Bayan Muna and Gabriela Women's Party that HB 345 or the bill legislating a P125 across-the-board wage increase for all workers will be deliberated upon at the soonest possible time, bar no more excuses.

"We will not be put off. A shocking P2 increase in fares is scheduled for implementation later in the Month, as well as another increase in power rates this June. How on earth will working class and low-income Filipinos be able to cope with these additional weighty economic burdens?" He said.

Aside from pushing for the legislation and implementation of HB 345, Beltran also said that the House should also support HB 4293 or the bill repealing RA 6762 or the wage rationalization law. He said that these two bills go hand in hand and support one another. "The legislation of nationwide, across-the-board wages will effectively render wage rationalization void. Congress should take back the responsibility of determining wages and abolish the regional wage boards whose main function has been to stop wage increases and to keep workers mendicant. RA 6762 should be abolished and a national minimum wage system be reinstated, " he said.

Finall, Beltran said that while working families experience new depths of deprivation, the share of profits in the national pie has been growing. The gross profit margin of the top 1000 corporations averaged 18.6% in 2001 which was a crisis year. The revenues of multinational corporations in the Philippines top 1000 for example have risen 68% between 1999 and 2001. Labor productivity in industry increased by almost 10% from 1999 to 2003 in real terms yet the real value of the minimum wage has been eroded by over 18% since 1999. Clearly MNCs and the local business elite can afford to pay their workers much more than what they are currently paying.

"That's why big business is forced to dissemble by claiming to have the interests of small businesses and their workers at heart when they rail against wage hikes. But in truth, majority of wage and salaried workers are employed in establishments employing 10 or more employees. Only 37 percent of workers are employed in firms with less than 10 employees (even if such micro-enterprises comprise majority of establishments). More importantly, labor productivity or the value-added created by each worker in establishments with 10 or more employees clearly indicate that their capitalist owners can afford to raise the wages of their workers by a substantial margin and still profit," he said.#


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