Manila – Progressive labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU or May First Movement) today criticized the “predictable charade” being staged by the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) over the P75 wage hike petition in the National Capital Region, calling it a media blitz aimed at earning “pogi points” for the business-backed labor center and the Arroyo government without really addressing the needs of the country’s workers.
The TUCP filed a petition last March 1 with the Metro Manila Wage Board for what it deceptively called an “across-the-board” P75 wage hike. The labor department, though insisting that it is the workers’ cost of living allowances and non-wage benefits that may be increased, has promised to study the TUCP’s proposal.
“That’s already a predictable charade. They have been acting out the same script for the past years. The TUCP will file a petition to the regional wage boards and then the DOLE either acts on it by merely increasing the workers’ cost of living allowances or non-wage benefits, or by not increasing anything at all. Whichever, the Filipino workers are always at the losing end,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.
“This year, they have a special agenda. In a desperate last-ditch effort, the Arroyo government wishes to deodorize its stinking image. The TUCP, after losing in the elections many times over, is once again running for the partylist elections. That explains the increased amount of their proposed wage hike and the heightened media blitz.”
“It is also not surprising why the Philippine Information Agency, a government agency, is recently dishing out favorable releases on TUCP’s petition. That’s how clear their connection is,” added Labog.
KMU also said the TUCP’s highly selective call for a P75 wage increase in Metro Manila, and recently, for a P75 wage hike for the Davao region, contradicts its justification – the increasing prices of basic commodities.
“The TUCP’s proposal betrays its narrow understanding of the workers’ situation in the country, as well as its narrow self-interest. It is not only in Metro Manila and Davao where prices are increasing. Nationwide, prices are actually soaring. So why demand a wage hike only in two regions rather than nationwide?” asked Labog.
The labor leader said a trend can be discerned from recent “wage increases” granted by regional wage boards: it is not the basic wage of workers that is being hiked, but only the cost of living allowances and non-wage benefits. Because increases in these components do not mean increases in the computation of overtime pay and bonuses, the DOLE grants these everytime there is clamor fo a substantial wage hike.
“That is why this is a cruel charade that’s being played out at the expense of Filipino workers. The Filipino workers need a legislated P125 across the board wage increase. But here comes partners TUCP and DOLE giving us a very minimal increase in cost of living allowances and non-wage benefits – and earning media airtime in the process,” Labog said.