Even employers in other regions have reportedly told the House labor committee they can afford the said wage hike.
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III could not be accused of ‘noynoying’ (doing nothing) by the country’s employers when it comes to blocking the legislation for a nationwide wage increase. Barely three days after the Congressional House Committee on Labor announced the likely approval of P125 ($2.91) wage hike bill (HB 375), Malacañang was already rejecting it. The Congressional Committee on Labor based its positive stance on the P125 ($2.91) wage hike proposal on the string of regional consultations it held in the past months.
In a press briefing yesterday, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said Pres. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III made some computations regarding the workers’ plea for a P125 across-the-board wage hike. He reportedly reached the conclusion that the P125 ($2.91) wage proposal is “not practicable.” Aquino was also quoted as saying the P125 wage hike is “too big” and “inflationary.”
But Aquino’s computation is “seriously flawed” and “stupid,” according to progressive labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU). Aquino’s computation used the total number of people in the labor force (38 million) as a multiplicand instead of only the wage and salary workers in the private sector (15.6 million). The P125 ($2.91) wage hike proposal will cover only the latter.
The labor group described Aquino’s “haste in upholding the interests of big foreign and local capitalists” as revolting and heartless. They also decried as “old tactic” this Malacañang portrayal of workers as overly or unreasonably demanding. “President Aquino merely brought the argument to the most absurd level so far,” Labog said, as he pointed to the bloated projection of Aquino’s “flawed” and “stupid” computations.
Independent think-tank Ibon Foundation had said an across the board wage increase multiplied by the actual number of wage earners in the private sector will only require P194.9 billion ($4.54 billion) a year, and not P1.6 trillion ($37.3 billion) as Aquino had warned.
P125 wage hike ok and practicable
Almost all Filipino labor groups, except for the government-backed Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), have been pressing the government to legislate the P125 ($2.91) nationwide wage hike bill, which has been pending in Congress for more than a decade now. The labor groups are also urging the government to padlock the regional wage boards, which they said are “inutile” based on their experience.
“Our demand for a P125 across-the-board wage hike nationwide is both reasonable and practicable. This immediate relief for us workers amounts to just a meager reduction in capitalists’ profits,” Labog said in a statement.
Based on government data itself from 2001 to 2009, the profits of the top 1,000 corporations operating in the Philippines grew 552-percent, but wages grew only by 31-percent in the same period, according to independent think-tank Ibon Foundation. (For more info, click here.) From 2009 to the present, not much has improved in the Filipino workers’ wages. Last May, the Aquino government granted what all labor groups described as “paltry” P22 ($0.51) cost of living allowance.
Even employers in other regions have reportedly told the House labor committee, during consultations, that they can afford the said wage hike. Assuming that among wage and salary workers the establishments that would implement the P125 wage hike are those with 20 employees or more, their profits will only be set back by 15-percent, said Ibon Foundation.
In a presentation before the House labor committee, Sonny Africa, research head of Ibon, shared that the positive gains to be had from the P125 wage hike actually go beyond the immediate relief it would provide the workers’ families. He said it would also “stimulate the economy by increasing aggregate demand.” Amid a global crisis, Africa reminded the government that the country’s “internal sources of growth and wages,” not profits, constitute a “more sustainable source of growth.”