ECOP & Joint Foreign Chambers Position on Wage Increase is Heartless—TUCP

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The Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP), the largest labor federation in the country, assailed the call of Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) president Edgardo Lacson and the Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines (JFC) to dismiss outright the 85-peso wage increase petition for minimum wage earners in Metro Manila.  

 

“The statement of the ECOP and the JFC calling for the wage board to dismiss outright the 85-peso wage increase petition of the TUCP by utterly ignoring the realities surrounding it is heartless and despicable,” Gerard R. Seno, executive vice president of ALU-TUCP. 

JFC’s and ECOP’s position was made after TUCP cited as basis for the increase the series of cost and price increases in electricity rate, liquified petroleum gas, tuition fees, commercial rice and gasoline as well as the impending increase in MRT and LRT minimum fare, water, and the SSS premium payment.

“This grinchy response to dismiss the petition outright tends to show the top leadership of ECOP and JFC is losing touch with the reality and continues to grow impervious to the brimming inequality in the Philippines by utterly disregarding the economic difficulties being experienced by thousands of Filipino minimum wage earners in Metro Manila whose minimum wage of 456 pesos per day have suffered an adverse 20.45% erosion, as of April 2013, as records of the Philippine government’s National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC) show,” Seno stressed. 

The current real take home pay of minimum wage earner in metropolis is P306 (P456 minus inflation and mandatory deductions)—way below the P1,200 living wage amount needed by a family of five to survive in the highly urbanized National Capital Region. 

Rejecting the petition outright, Seno said, proved JFC and ECOP are grossly being unjust to Filipino workers who largely contributed to the country’s so-called spectacular economic growth—the highest in Southeast Asia and among the highest in Asia— which the employers group like ECOP and JFC themselves have been bragging about. This is also an acrimonious stance that does not contribute to sway a healthy and progressive social dialogue between trade unions, government and other employers group in addressing Filipino workers’ right to a just living wage. 

ECOP’s and JFC’s threat that many SME will close shop which will result to layoffs because of increase in wages is untrue. This is not and this will not happen in the Philippines because those who cannot afford the minimum wage rate can be exempted by law from applying the rate. 

He pointed out that some companies relocate to other countries because of high cost of electricity which is the highest in Asia and one of the highest in the world. They also chose to invest in other countries outside the Philippines because of red tape, endemic corruption and the lack of adequate facilities and infrastructure and not necessarily because of high wage rate. 

It is also unfair to compare the wage rate in the Philippines with those in neighboring countries in Southeast Asia due to a mere fact that workers in each countries operate in varying political and economic circumstances and procedures. 

While the TUCP led by our president Democrito Mendoza shares with ECOP and JFC their advocacy in smuggling, in minimizing red tape and in bringing down the cost of electricity rate, this hard line position towards the TUCP wage petition shows their mutual aspiration to further widen the gap between the rich and the poor in this country. It also shows that there is still an element of greed among their ranks to permanently deprive the millions of Filipino workers of opportunities to improve their economic situation, Seno stressed. 

“We call on the members of the wage board, the government and workers’ representatives in particular, to dismiss the call. The board must objectively focus on how it can help restore Filipino workers’ lost purchasing power. We call on them to complete the process of dialogue and consultation with all stakeholders towards a fair and just amount with the ultimate goal of improving the lives of the Filipino working class”, he added. 

The TUCP re-filed its petition for P85 wage increase on June 5 after the board rejected its first petition made on April 3 for having been filed before the one year prescribed period ends. The wage board has conducted two of its three public consultations on the petition. The discussions has boiled down to how much would be the amount of increase.