Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts

Vol. V,    No. 18      June 12 - 18, 2005      Quezon City, Philippines











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Southern Tagalog Workers Treated Like Slaves

In the Southern Tagalog region, workers were given a minuscule increase in their minimum daily wage. What proves to be worse is that only a small segment can avail of the already miniscule increase, since those outside the so-called extended metropolitan area will be getting less.


CALAMBA CITY, Laguna – A wage increase has been granted but workers in the Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) said that this is not enough. In the recent past, they even stressed that wages were reduced.

Following the announcement of the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board-Department of Labor and Employment (RTWPB-DoLE) of a P22 ($0.40, based on an exchange rate of P55.20 per U.S. dollar) daily wage increase last June 3 through Wage Order No. IV A-10, progressive labor leaders here (52 kms south of Manila) said that the move is like "giving alms." They assailed the Macapagal-Arroyo administration for "pushing paid labor to a depressing state."

Under the new wage order, a copy of which was obtained by the Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan-Kilusang Mayo Uno (Pamantik-KMU, or Unity of Workers in Southern Tagalog-May First Movement), the already minuscule increase is given in two installments.

Effective June 16, workers in the municipalities, cities and provinces in Calabarzon classified as "extended metropolitan area," "growth corridor area," "emerging growth area" and "resource-based area" will receive a daily wage increase amounting to P10 ($0.18). By Jan. 1, 2006, they will get an additional P12 ($0.22), P7 ($0.13), P5 ($0.09), and P3 ($0.05) respectively.

Only San Pedro (31 kms from
Manila) and Biñan (35 kms) towns in Laguna, as well as Imus (23 kms) and Bacoor (17 kms) in Cavite which are reclassified as extended metropolitan area can avail of the P22 ($0.40) daily wage increase. From P255 ($4.62) last year, the minimum daily wage in this area is increased to P277 ($5.02).

On Nov. 1 last year, wage adjustments in Calabarzon underwent a reclassification scheme through DoLE’s Wage Order IV A-9. Pamantik-KMU said that instead of providing relief, workers in places outside the extended metropolitan area suffered minimum daily wage diminutions ranging from P5 ($0.09) to P38 ($0.69).

Farm workers in the Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan
) region, meanwhile, are receiving as low as P40 ($0.72) to P80 ($1.45) in their daily wage.

As of 2001, the total workforce in the Southern Tagalog region, a prime foreign investment hub, stood at about four million.

Dignity, not alms

"The RTWPB-DOLE's wage hike has no serious objective but to pour cold water over the worker's struggle for a P125 ($2.26) legislated wage increase,” Pamantik-KMU secretary-general Luz Baculo told Bulatlat. “Alms and bribes will not suppress the strength gathered and intensified by the workers in the wage campaign."

Baculo explained that in the increase announced recently, wages are either just the same or lower than the minimum daily wage before Nov. 1.

In Cavite, employers are systematically reducing daily wages down to P177 ($3.21) through a so-called apprenticeship program, according to Solidarity of Cavite Workers (SCW) Chairperson Marlene Gonzales. "We work as long as 12 hours a day but we still remain poor. We can only depend on building trade unions because this serves as our pillar to defend our rights, jobs and wages."

Noel Alemania, spokesperson of the campaign alliance Southern Tagalog Wage Increase Solidarity (ST-WINS) and the Cabuyao Workers' Alliance (CAWAL), called to dismantle the regional wage boards which, he said, contributes to the exploitation of workers.

"Alipin ang turing sa naobligang limos sa pulubing obrero!”(They treat us like slaves as they are obliged to give alms on poor workers), he said.

In the wake of problems like soaring prices of oil and basic commodities capped with regressive tax measures, Baculo said the militant labor movement vowed to persevere in their struggle amidst supposed maneuvers by the Macapagal-Arroyo regime to "kill" the wage bill filed in Congress. Bulatlat




© 2004 Bulatlat  Alipato Publications

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