Tuesday, May 31, 2005

NR0531:Measly wage hike/COLA pushl labor to demand wage legislation

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release May 31, 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

Measly P25 wage hike in the NCR and smaller hikes in the regions all the more push workers to demand legislation of wages, demand abolition of wage boards

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today said that the P25 wage increase for the NCR laid down by the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) is a small but definite political victory for Filipino workers, "From taking a hardline position against wage hikes, the Macapagal-Arroyo administration's political will was tested and bent by the workers' relentless campaign for a wage increase. The president is well aware of how unpopular she is with the labor sector. Economically speaking, the P25 wage hike in the NCR and the smaller wage hike order in the other regions are measly, but the political gain is tremendous. Workers from various labor groups have become united because of this wage hike issue. This small political victory all the more encourages workers. Workers won't rest on their laurels or ease up on their relentless campaign for the legislation of a P125 across-the-board wage increase. " he said.

"The Macapagal-Arroyo administration was pushed to the wall and forced to order a wage increase because of strong pressure from workers' groups. Workers should not be grateful to Pres. Arroyo for this recent wage hike order. But the fight is far from over. If anything, it's only the beginning because a wage hike order from the regional wage boards essentially count for nothing. The National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC) is certain to take its immediate cue and grant exemptions to employers and allow them to be exempted from granting the measly wage hike orders and cost-of-living-allowance (COLA)," he said.

Beltran said that he was prepared all excuses the House leadership is certain to offer regarding their refusal to deliberate over HB 345, or the bill legislating a P125 across-the-board wage increase nationwide. "It's easy to read the minds of Speaker Jose de Venecia and Majority leader Prospero Nograles. No doubt they'll say that since the wage boards have already released wage hike orders, there's no longer any need to deliberate on a legislated wage hike. This is a pathetic and transparently treacherous excuse. Congress has a moral obligation to workers to legislate wage hikes. The regional wage boards should be abolished and so should wage rationalization be scrapped. Congress is superior to the wage boards, and it is to this body that workers are presenting the demand that the wage rationalization law be repealed and wage hikes be legislated," he said.

The veteran labor leader turned lawmaker said that a COLA is not a substantial wage increase. It is not included in the computation of basic pay, overtime pay and retirement benefits. He also pointed out that the wage boards worked double-time to announce additional COLA to impede possible developments in the campaign for legislated wage increase. He said without doubt, Malacanang allies in the House will will use the Labor Code provision stating that wage hikes are allowed only once in every year to block the possibility of a legislated wage. "But economic conditions dictate that legislated and substantial wage hikes necessary, and that a P25 wage increase even with a P50 COLA is far from enough."

"The government and employers collude in using the wage boards to shortchange workers. Wage boards were established to ensure low pay for workers in the private sector. Regionalization of wage determination was brought about by the government's cheap labor policy. They want labor costs to remain low at the expense of local and foreign big businesses."

"The claim of the administration's so-called economic experts that wages increased by 26 percent in past four years is an out and out lie. Wage boards only laid down worthless wage adjustments mostly in the form of Cost COLA."#

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