Mayhem in Labor Chief’s Power: Workers Say ‘Assumption of Jurisdiction’ Is Anti-Labor

Profits boom but worker’s pay slips

One cause of many labor strikers is the freezing of wages, a company policy supported by the government. Yet corporate profit is reportedly increasing. Last week, newspapers cited reports by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) that the export earnings of companies in economic zones have reached $25.6 billion in the first 10 months of 2004, a 14 percent increase compared to $22.49 billion in the same period last year.

Among all economic zones, the Laguna Technopark in Southern Tagalog remains the single leading export performer with $6.51 billion. There are more than 50 private and government-run economic zones within Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon).

Government authorities claim that employment in the region rose by 11.2 percent. Just the same, contractual workers continue to outnumber the regulars with 399,000 direct hired and 598,000 indirectly employed. The contractual workers have neither social benefits nor job security.

Even the Wage Order No. 9 implemented last November by the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board in Region IV-A (RTWPB) has earned ire rather than relief among crisis-stricken workers. In fact, RTWPB’s “reclassification” of municipalities and cities has spurred wage reduction in many areas.

Lower than basic pay

For instance, in General Mariano Alvarez town in Cavite, workers now receive less than P40 in their basic pay. Workers in the towns of Carmona, Rosario, General Trias, Dasmarinas and Cavite City which were classified in past wage orders as Extended Metropolitan Area will only get an additional P12 instead of P18 due to reclassification of these as Growth Corridor Area.

Only Imus and Bacoor towns, along with San Pedro and Biñan in Laguna remain classified as Extended Metropolitan Area that will avail of the P255 new minimum wage.

Highly suspicious

In a statement, the Solidarity of Cavite Workers (SCW) assailed the latest wage order as “highly suspicious, anomalous and deceptive.”

SCW chairperson Marlene Gonzales said: “While Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s cabinet members and hatchet men in government-owned corporations are excessively living in abundance from the people’s money and are even protected for their corruption, workers’ welfare are left behind to bear the brunt of her economic and political mismanagement. Sooner, the lowly-paid workers will cry out loud in unison: Madam, no more noodles on our table!”

Seeing the inutility of the RTWPB, NCPWR-ST’s Fortuna stressed that what the country urgently needs is a legislated wage increase of P125 across the country. (

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