Big Landlords, Not Regional Wage Boards Determine Agri Workers’ Pay

”The fishlords in commercial and aquaculture sectors are dictating the take home pay of fishworkers. The wage boards and its’ so-called political authority as far as wage determination is concerned is ignored and its orders violated by big commercial and aquaculture owners and operators,” said Fernando Hicap, Pamalakaya national chair.

The Pamalakaya leader said in aquaculture fishponds, seasonal workers employed in aqua farms measuring 125 hectares to 200 hectares are paid P 200 ($4.77) per day, while those working in fishponds measuring 12 hectares and below are paid P120 ($2.86) per day.

”President Arroyo should get in touch with reality before rejecting the P125 ($2.98) daily across-the-board wage increase proposed by Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Rep. Crispin Beltran and other militant lawmakers. Her outright rejection is a monumental blunder and a classic act of betrayal which is unforgivable and worthy of national condemnation,” Hicap said.

28.7 million not covered by Arroyo pay hike

Pamalakaya and UMA said 28.37 million workers, including 600,000 fish workers in commercial and aquaculture sectors, out of the 33.7 million labor force will not benefit from President Macapagal-Arroyo’s order to Regional Wage Boards to grant increase in the daily take home pay of workers.

The groups said President Arroyo is only amenable to the wage hike of some 5 million workers or merely 15 percent out of the 33.7 million total labor force in the country, and this will not include the bulk of minimum wage earners representing organized and unorganized labor.

“Once again, President Arroyo is taking the Filipino workers to another roller coaster ride, and to her world of make-believe. Her call for a wage hike last Monday (April 14) is fake and was meant to counter the sharp drop in her approval rating,” both groups said in a joint statement, a copy of which was e-mailed to Bulatlat.

Pamalakaya and UMA were referring to negative trust and approval ratings according to the latest survey results released by the Social Weather Stations (SWS), which showed that Arroyo’s ratings dropped to the same level when the Chief Executive was implicated in the Hello Garci scandal in 2005.

Both groups agreed that Mrs. Arroyo “merely wants to divide the labor sector” by announcing a wage increase for 15 percent of the population, and denying 85 percent of the country’s workers of their much-needed pay hike.

The groups asserted that workers badly need a P125 across-the-board pay hike to cope up with the rising prices of food and other basic necessities.

“Mrs. Arroyo merely gave false hopes out of her empty promise, anyway agricultural workers do not believe her, because for every 10 promises she made, 11 are broken according to her track record as enemy of labor and willing puppet of foreign and local capitalists,” they added.

Last week, Ciriaco Lagunzad, executive director of the National Wage and Productivity Commission (NWPC), revealed that only 5 million of the nearly 34 million-strong labor force in the country will benefit from Arroyo’s order for regional tripartite wage boards to grant pay hikes to minimum wage earners.

The NWPC official said the wage increase will not be across the board, saying only the minimum wage earners will get pay hikes determined by the Regional Wage Boards. The official said those earning above the minimum wage of P350 ($8.35) per day will not be covered by the wage increase to be determined and approved by the wage boards.

Pamalakaya and UMA reminded President Arroyo and Ciriaco, that based on own findings of the NWPC, each family of six needs P858 ($20.47) per day to survive in Metro Manila and that the current P350 minimum wage which is regularly received by non-agricultural workers is way, way below of the required amount for a family of six
to survive.

Both groups said the P350 ($8.35) minimum wage is actually worth P 245.61 ($5.86) today based on the present inflation rate. In the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), this has the lowest minimum wage pegged at P200 ($4.77) a day, a family of six needs P1,186 ($28.30) a day to survive. However, the nominal basic pay of P200, if translated into real wages would only be P136.71 ($3.26) today. Contributed to (

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