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September wage hike too late, most likely too little – KMU

Reacting to the Labor Department’s announcement that a wage hike for Metro Manila’s workers will be implemented on September, labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno said today that the hike is already too late and will most likely be too little if coursed through the regional wage board.

KMU said the country’s regional wage boards have through the years approved only meager wage adjustments, rejected calls for a significant wage increase, and allowed the gap between the prices of basic goods and services and workers’ wages to increase.

The labor center said that a significant wage hike is only possible through legislation and called for the immediate passage of the P125 Wage Hike Bill, which was refiled by Anakpawis Partylist Rep. Fernando Hicap in the 16th Congress as House Bill 253 last July 1.

According to rules approved by the 15th Congress, the bill, which was approved by the House Committee on Labor and Employment last February, will be considered approved at the committee level at the start of the 16th Congress.

“A September wage hike is already too late and, if coursed through the regional wage boards, will most likely be too little. Because of the soaring prices of basic goods and services, workers need an immediate and significant wage hike,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.

“The Aquino government is gravely mistaken if it believes that the announcement will lessen workers’ increasing anger and frustration over rockbottom wages and soaring prices. This announcement is prompted more by the government’s desire to quell workers’ growing anger and frustration than a desire to assuage worsening hunger and poverty,” he added.

KMU cited independent think-tank Ibon Foundation’s May 2013 study showing the Family Living Wage in the National Capital Region increasing to P1,034 for a family of six as of December 2012, a far cry from the P426 minimum wage in the region.

“The country’s regional wage boards have proven themselves to be instruments of big capitalists for pressing down workers’ wages. Only a significant wage increase will give workers genuine immediate relief and it is only possible through legislation,” Labog said.

“We vow to intensify our struggle for a significant wage hike and the passage of the P125 Wage Hike Bill in the coming weeks and months. A significant wage hike is long overdue, as shown by increasing hunger and poverty among workers,” he added.

KMU reiterated its analysis that labor cost is a minimal burden to small Filipino entrepreneurs when compared with high power and water rates, high taxes and government corruption, and trade liberalization and smuggling.

Reference Person: 
Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson
Contact information: 
0908-1636597

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