It is a fact that the income inequality gap in this country is going from bad to worse. The establishment is getting richer and the majority is left out. This is a gap that calls for laws on justice, fairness, business practices, taxation and other means that the government must address to remedy.
But meanwhile let us talk about the gap between owners of businesses and their employees. As the economic growth rates improve, it seems only the incomes of business owners improve while their employees are left out in the wilderness of low pay, no benefits, no savings, no means to pay for health and education needs. The business pages are replete with dazzling leaps in profits and capital expenditures made year by year by these mightily profitable corporations.
Yet a survey of the salaries paid to their employees barely supersedes the minimum wages required by law. As they say, labor is the cheapest resource in this country and these profitable corporations make bigger profits because they pay the minimum or just above minimum wages. As a result their employees have a job, earn a salary, live from day to day paying food prices, rentals, transportation, and whatever is left for education and medical care with hardly any disposable income specially for leisure.
And if there is disposable income for leisure of the most modest levels, there certainly is none for a house or car, emergencies or even basic medical care like dental work and preventive medicine. The usual course is to seek medical care only when in dire straits or leave out dental care altogether because of the fear of the expense for these services due to not enough income to meet medical fees.
These high profit and even leading corporations may be paying Social Security (but with meager salaries, the contributions must be equally meager). Philippine Health Insurance is mandatory and may help tide their employees over but only up to a point when it comes to dire disease conditions. Pag-Ibig may be useful when one has saved enough to be able to take a loan for housing. The point is with low salaries who can save enough?
Meanwhile, these rich and really hypocritical corporations trumpet their corporate social responsibility activities all over the media in expensive public relations outlays, giving dole outs to typhoon and other disaster victims, parading scholarships (to schools of lower tuition and less-than-quality education), giving token amounts to NGOs and in general getting much mileage from all of these while underpaying their own employees. Other places they pour big money to are in self-advertisements dedicated to enhancing their image, getting their rich customers to laud them, praising themselves as ultimate socially responsible entities. Money for such seems not to carry any budget limits in their image-building fervor.
Yet what do they really give back? Huge funds to advertising agencies and media enterprises, nothing quite the same to their employees, the very people who have been part and parcel of their success.
The business entities who give handsome benefits from their huge profits to their employees are few and far between. Few are those, employers with extraordinary profits who step in and take up the slack in government efforts to provide housing, few are those who have adequate and reliable medical benefits (beyond the minimum required by law) for employees and their families, few are those who provide loans when credit is needed as it will be as a matter of course.
Worse, some of these giant profitable corporations do not even give job security to employees. They use contractual labor that allows employees only less than a six-month work tenure without benefits. Actually, it is so precisely to evade having to be responsible for the basic benefits like Social Security, Phil Health and Pag-Ibig. Yet without employees these businesses would never be successful or even operational.
The point is that business and labor are necessary partners in the economic world, or should share, if not equally, at least adequately for the employee. It is unjust that the share is too lopsided in favor of capital at the expense of labor.
The hypocritical trumpeting of pretend corporate social responsibility which is practiced daily and in your face by corporations that window dress their picayune contributions to their employees and to the community is a falsehood difficult to bear. I think it is about time to call it intolerable and demand equality and fairness. Better yet, couldn’t there be some consciousness-raising that will make those who gain so much, share more?