February 19, 2010
Labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno and Anakpawis Partylist branded as “insulting to workers” the three regional wage boards’ claim that they are studying the possibility of raising wages in their respective regions.
Wage boards in Zamboanga and Eastern Visayas are reportedly studying a P50 increase in the minimum wage, while the wage board in Western Visayas is reportedly studying a P100 increase in the minimum wage – all to allegedly “help workers cope up” with increases in the prices of commodities.
“The Filipino workers and people have long been battered by an unprecedented crisis. On the other hand, the wage boards and the DOLE have long ignored the workers’ call for a P125 wage increase nationwide. It is therefore highly-suspicious that they are trying to show off only now that Arroyo’s term is about to end,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.
Together with Makabayan senatoriables Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza, the late Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran filed House Bill 1722 in Congress, which calls for a P125 legislated wage increase in the country.
Unity amidst attempts to divide
“The Aquino administration established the regional wage boards in 1989 to prevent wage increases at the national level, to give only meager increases in workers’ wages in every region, and to divide the unity of workers,” said Labog.
Labog said wages in Metro Manila were increased for only 16 times after the wage boards were established, with P26 being the highest increase. “And the wage boards were merely forced to implement these because of protests by workers and the people.”
“Now, after two decades of the wage boards’ existence, the real value of the minimum wage in Metro Manila is merely P240. The daily cost of living, meanwhile, standsat P920,” said Labog.
“It is still a legislated, national and significant wage increase that workers should unite and fight for,” added Labog.
For his part, Anakpawis Rep. Joel “Jomag” Maglunsod, a Bisaya and a native of Mindanao, encouraged his fellow Visayans and Mindanaoans to fight for a legislated nationwide wage increase.
“We should defy what the government is trying to do – to divide workers in our united call. We should aspire for greater victories in our fight for livelihood and social justice,” said Maglunsod.
Gloria’s last-ditch efforts
Maglunsod also said that “It is obvious that Gloria is trying hard to ‘deodorize’ her name before her term ends, because she knows just how furious the workers and people have become for her destruction of lives and livelihood.”
“For two years, since a P20 increase in Metro Manila was granted in June 2008, we have not received even a slight increase from Arroyo. Since then, the prices of various commodities have steadily climbed, joblessness has worsened, and attacks on regular work have intensified.”
Maglunsod said that since Arroyo assumed office, the prices of oil and sugar have tripled, while the price of rice has doubled.
“Because of Gloria’s grave crimes to the people, we should do everything we can to foil her attempts to deodorize her name, deceive the people, stay in power and create more havoc in our livelihood. She is desperate to do all these.”
Reference: Elmer “Bong” Labog