‘Zero wage hike’ before Labor Day slammed


Around 100,000 workers and their families from different parts of the country are expected to join Labor Day protests to push the next administration to implement a P750 daily National Minimum Wage and end contractualization.

They slammed President Aquino for not implementing a significant wage hike before his term ends. His administration, workers say, is responsible for neoliberal economic policies that have “worsened the situation of Filipino workers” for the past six years.

“Amid heaps of promises of lifting the poor out of poverty if Daang Matuwid continues, [Aquino should at least grant] workers a significant wage hike this Labor Day. Instead, his government gives P7 to workers in Central Luzon only. [This is] too little even for alms,” said Daisy Arago, executive director of Center for Trade Union and Human Rights.

For this year’s Labor Day protest, workers are preparing a giant mural depicting the “three ills” of Philippine society, and an effigy of Aquino as a “butcher” and a “puppet of US imperialism.”

“The mural depicts imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat-capitalism, the main cause of hunger and poverty in our country. The butcher effigy on the other hand symbolizes Aquino’s role in killing workers and farmers,” said Jerome Adonis, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) secretary general.

Earlier this week, workers from Southern Tagalog marched to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) office in Intramuros.

“We and other workers from the rest of the country are pushing for a higher minimum wage because of the continuous hikes in prices of basic commodities,” Allan Bagas, Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (Pamantik-KMU) secretary general said.

Joining the protest were contractual workers from Tanduay Distillery who staged a strike last year, who haven’t been reinstated despite DOLE decisions affirming that they are regular workers. “The greedy Lucio Tan still had the guts to file an appeal, even if the facts and laws clearly say that we are regular workers,” said Anse Are, president of the Tanduay contractual workers association.

Workers from the Marikina East Labor Association (MELA) also staged a similar protest. MELA spokesperson Evangeline Victorino said that the P480 daily minimum wage is not enough.

According to IBON Foundation, a worker should earn at least P1,088 per day to be able to provide for a family of six members.

Workers from the regions earn even less. In Ilocos, workers only receive a daily take home pay of P227 to P253 daily, according to the National Wages and Productivity Board. In Mindanao, agricultural workers gets a daily take home pay of P291.

“The minimum wage has been so utterly destroyed and pressed down that meager wage hikes won’t be enough. What workers need is a National Minimum Wage closer to the Family Living Wage, in the amount of P750,” Adonis said.

KMU also condemned Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz for making excuses for contractualization, in media interviews after presidentiables promised to end contractualization in their last televised debate.

Baldoz justified contractualization by making it appear that the problem only lies with so-called fly-by-night contractors, which the labor group says are dummies of big capitalists.

“The problem lies with the Labor Code, which was affirmed by the Herrera Law, banning Labor-Only Contracting but allowing Job Contracting. Existing laws have allowed contractualization to spread, whether in the ‘legitimate’ or in the ‘illegitimate’ forms,” Adonis said.

Meanwhile, government employees also said that contractualization in the public sector is the “lasting legacy” of the Aquino administration.

In preparation for Labor Day protests, employees from the National Food Authority (NFA) and other Government-Owned-and-Controlled Corporations marched towards the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) Office to call for the junking of Executive Order 203 Adopting a Compensation and Position Classification System.

EO 203 provides for a wage adjustment for employees of GOCCs, but also insists on reorganization, abolition and privatization of government agencies as pre-conditions. The adjustment also discriminates against contractuals, and will result to mass lay-offs, according to the NFA Employees Association (NFAEA).

“Aalis na nga lang (si Aquino) sa puwesto, nag-iwan pa ng malawakang tanggalan, massacre ng aming mga trabaho,” NFAEA president Roman Sanchez said.

Public sector workers will join May 1 protests as well.

Leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.