Workers ask 16th Congress to pass P125 Wage Hike Bill

MANILA — As the 16th Congress starts regular sessions, workers led by labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno picketed the Batasang Pambansa this morning to call for the immediate passage of the bill seeking to legislate a P125 (US$2.88) across-the-board wage hike nationwide.

KMU said workers need a significant wage hike, not incremental adjustments, and that it’s Congress and the Senate which should hear calls for a wage hike, not the regional wage boards. For years now, they decried the regional wage boards’ refusal to hike wages by a significant amount, despite the steep increases in prices of almost all goods and services.

Bills for a P125 (US$2.88) across-the-board wage hike nationwide have been filed since 2001. In the 16th Congress the bill has been re-filed this month as House Bill 253 by Anakpawis Partylist Rep. Fernando Hicap.

“After decades of minimal wage adjustments and soaring prices, workers urgently need a significant wage increase. We vow to work for the P125 Wage Hike Bill’s passage in the 16th Congress,” said Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general.

“The country’s regional wage boards should be abolished for refusing to grant a significant wage hike and intensifying hunger and poverty among workers,” he added.

The labor center said it is not happy with the Metro Manila wage board’s announcement that it will start hearing petitions for a wage hike on August 8, saying increases in the prices of basic goods and rates of basic services have been outpacing increases in workers’ wages because of the wage boards.

KMU cited independent think-tank Ibon Foundation’s May 2013 study which shows that the Family Living Wage or “the minimum amount needed for a family of six members to meet their daily food and non-food needs plus 10% allocation for savings” in Metro Manila is already at P1,034 (US$23.84).

It also called on Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles, newly-appointed chair of the House Committee on Labor and Employment, to prioritize hearings for the P125 Wage Hike Bill.

The P125 Wage Hike Bill was passed by the House COLE last February 6. Under the new rules approved by the 15th Congress, bills passed at the committee level will be considered approved at that level and will not start from scratch when the 16th Congress opens.

“We call on the country’s legislators to defy the dictates of Malacañang and big capitalists and to heed their constituents’ call for a significant wage hike. We vow to make the call for a significant wage hike louder to a point that legislators won’t be able to ignore it,” Soluta said.
Last year’s wage hike approved by the wage board ranged from P2 to P22 ($0.046 to $0.51), implemented starting from June to November. It gave the relative highest hike to National Capital Region workers, and froze the minimum wages in Southern Tagalog as it claimed to attempt to increase the new minimum wage there (which it now calls as “floor wage”) to approximate the average amount being paid in the region in violation of the original minimum wage law. With the freeze in minimum wages there, the Aquino government not only introduced a lower minimum wage, it introduced at the same time its preferred new wage system dubbed as two-tiered wage system.

The Kilusang Mayo Uno and the new labor alliance ACT2WIN condemned the new wage system. The government-backed Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, meanwhile, filed a wage hike demand with the regional wage boards. ()

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