SENATORIAL aspirant Leody de Guzman lashed out at Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello and the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) for the P25 wage order it issued Monday for workers in Metro Manila.
De Guzman, chairperson of the militant Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) said that the wage hike was “contemptibly unreasonable” considering that productivity was at record-breaking levels in 2017, as reported by Forbes Magazine.
“The order of the NCR wage board, which was openly supported DOLE Sec. Bello, did not lift minimum wages from starvation levels. Hence, it is a death warrant for four million working-class families, who would have to wait for another year for the next round of wage orders. Their order condemned us to another year of misery amid forecasts of continuing price hikes and economic slowdown in the coming year,”
He argued that Bello and other labor officials deliberately did not consider the capacity to pay of employers as productivity increased. Forbes Magazine recently reported that the per capita gross domestic product (GDP) reached 2,891.36 U.S. dollars in 2017 which he claimed is remarkably exceptional given that our average for the period 1960-2017 is only 1,627.98 USD.
“Such wage order only fortifies our belief that employers and government officials are in cahoots to cheapen the price of labor, as they both squeeze taxes and profits out of the value-added created by the working class,” he adds.
The BMP supported the petition of the group Trade Union Congress of the Philippines for a P334 wage hike during the consultations held by the RTWPB but insisted that wage hikes should be coupled with policy reforms, particularly price control, so that pay hikes would not be used as an excuse for further increasing in the prices of basic commodities, which are expected to spike during the yuletide season. .
De Guzman says that the Duterte administration’s lack of empathy and political will for a substantial wage hike only cements his belief that the masses must rely only on themselves in asserting the justness of their demands.
“Higit sa panahong ito, kailangan ng manggagawa’t mamamayan ng tagapagsalita at magsusulong ng kanilang hinaing sa gobyerno. Wala na tayong napapala sa mga ahensyang kinopo ng mga kapitalista at burukrata para baratin ang sweldo ng mga manggagawa,” De Guzman gathered.
The veteran labor leader is running on a platform of living wages, the scrapping of the regional wage boards, the abolition of all tripartite and contractual employment schemes or endo, the indexing of wages for its automatic adjustment of wages in relation to inflation, and the removal of value added taxes and excise taxes on petroleum products, which according to De Guzman are the main causes of price hikes in the second and third quarters of 2018.
BMP also announced that they shall be holding protest actions in the weeks to come to push for price control in time for the yuletide season.