15 August 2011
MANILA — “Faced with workers’ continuing clamor for a significant wage hike, the Department of Trade and Industry is resorting to the age-old tactic of blackmailing workers with threats of massive layoffs.”
This was the statement of labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno as it picketed the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) office in Makati City today to condemn Secretary Gregory Domingo’s statement last week that the Aquino government is opposed to the P125 Wage Hike Bill in the House of Representatives because the said bill will supposedly make the country unattractive to investors and cause massive layoffs.
Domingo was referring to House Bill 375 filed by Anakpawis Partylist Rep. Rafael V. Mariano, which seeks to legislate a P125 across-the-board wage hike nationwide.
“The DTI had to make the statement because it knows that the Filipino workers and people are still clamoring that the government approve a significant wage hike, amidst the rising prices of basic goods and services, especially oil. It’s so-called basis, however, is as discredited as it is old,” said Nitz Gonzaga, KMU vice-chairperson for women.
“It is not labor cost that is eating up the biggest chunk of capitalists’ cost of production, but high energy cost – 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,” she added.
The protestors burned an image of Pres. Aquino and Sec. Domingo with the words “Department na Tubo ang Inuuna,” playing on the department’s initials.
Capitalist opposition to significant wage hike
KMU cited a research released by independent think-tank Ibon Foundation that a P125 across-the-board wage hike will only mean a 15% reduction in capitalists’ profits, which shows 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,” Gonzaga said.
“The truth is that capitalists have steadily amassed greater profits through the years while workers’ wages have been kept at the barest minimum. This workers know, that is why threats of massive layoffs will not deter us from fighting for a significant wage hike in the form of the P125 Wage Hike Bill,” she added.
“We will intensify our fight for a significant wage hike in the coming months,” she said.