By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – Workers criticized the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for opposing a bill seeking to legislate a P125 ($2.93) across-the-board wage hike nationwide.
Anakpawis Partylist Rep. Rafael V. Mariano filed House Bill 375. The late labor leader Crispin Beltran first filed a similar bill in 2001 as representative of Bayan Muna. Ten years later, the bill is still facing opposition from “capitalist-dominated Congress.”
In a statement, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo said “giving a P125 ($2.94) per day wage hike across the board will make our companies uncompetitive compared to its Asian counterparts.” While Domingo agrees that there should be an increase in the workers’ take home pay, the hike “should be close to the inflation rate and not so high that it will imperil the operations of firms in the country.”
Labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno said “the DTI is resorting to the age-old tactic of blackmailing workers with threats of massive layoffs.”
Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general, said Filipino workers are clamoring for a significant wage hike amid the rising prices of basic goods and services.
Mininum wage in the National Capital Region is P426 ($10) daily. In May, the Department of Labor and Employment approved a P22 ($0.52) (daily cost-of-living allowance (COLA) for workers in NCR. Meanwhile, daily cost of living for a family of six is pegged at P984 ($23.15)
Soluta branded as “discredited and old” the basis of DTI’s opposition.
“It is not labor cost that is eating up the biggest chunk of capitalists’ cost of production, but high energy costs – the highest in Asia. Domingo is trying to deceive workers in exaggerating the possible impact of a substantial wage hike, while keeping silent on energy cost which is afflicting investors, especially small Filipino businesses,” Soluta added.
KMU cited a research by Ibon Foundation showing that a P125 across-the-board wage hike will only mean a 15 percent reduction in capitalists’ profits, proving that such a hike should not cause massive retrenchment of workers.
“The problem is that capitalists are unwilling to allow even a minimal reduction in their profits despite the intense poverty and hunger being suffered by workers. The DTI is serving as capitalists’ spokesperson in echoing the latter’s threat of massive retrenchment to workers,” Soluta said.
Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) has been vocal in opposing the proposed P125 wage increase, saying it would result in the mass layoff of 700,000 workers.