It is not wages that make doing business difficult for small businessmen, but high power and water rates, trade liberalization and smuggling, and taxes to the government and kickbacks by government officials.” – KMU
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III came from show business, music and entertainment before using the popularity he derived from it into becoming a senator. Recently, he earned public scorn for having committed plagiarism and worse, using it to defeat the purpose of the original statement. Late last week though, Sotto did something that earned the support of workers’ group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU).
“We consider the 14th Month Pay Bill or Senate Bill 1645 filed by Sen. Vicente “Tito” Sotto III as salutary. This move aimed at granting workers not less than 1 ½ of the total basic salary earned by private- and public-sector employees within the calendar year is positive,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, chairman of KMU.
The labor center has been waging a campaign for a P125 legislated, across-the-board wage hike for more than a decade now, without much success as it deplored the Philippine government’s committed drive to freezing Filipinos’ wages. As such, the group welcomed Sotto’s bill, saying it will give some relief to workers suffering from extreme hunger and poverty worsened by the soaring prices of basic goods and services and by the Aquino government’s refusal to hike wages by a significant amount.
The labor group views Sotto’s proposal as “a recognition that the P10 wage adjustment approved by the Metro Manila wage board will do little in improving the lives of workers.” Based on years-long practice, the latest wage board decision in the capital “signals regional wage boards across the country not to hike wages by more than P10,” Labog noted. Historically, despite their being meager, wage hikes granted by the Philippine regional wage boards are usually at their relative highest in the capital. Wages go down outside of the capital.
Workers argue that wage levels in the Philippines can be increased to provide the workers some relief without damaging the economy. “Even small Filipino businessmen say that labor cost amounts to a small section of production costs. It is not wages that make doing business difficult for small businessmen, but high power and water rates, trade liberalization and smuggling, and taxes to the government and kickbacks by government officials,” Labog said in a statement.
The labor center reiterates its calls on the House of Representatives to prioritize the passage of the P125 Wage Hike Bill, or House Bill 253, filed by Anakpawis Partylist Rep. Fernando Hicap. The bill was passed at the committee level in the 15th Congress and promised to be taken up starting from that level in today’s 16th Congress.
Labog urged the country’s senators to file the P125 Wage Hike Bill’s counterpart in Senate. In the 15th Congress, Sen. Bong Revilla filed the bill’s counterpart but Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources, refused to act on the bill.