Labor groups on Thursday asked the Supreme Court (SC) to declare unconstitutional Republic Act (RA) 6727, or the Wage Rationalization Act of 1989.
In a 35-page petition, former party-list Rep. Walden Bello, along with Ugnayan ng Maralita Laban sa Kahirapan (Umalab Ka), National Federation of Labor (NFL), Solidarity of Independent and General Labor Organizations (SIGLO) and individual petitioners Froilan Caratihan, Rusty dela Cruz, Emmanuel Cavanas and Shiela Baylosis claimed that RA 6727 violates the Constitution.
Bello is running for senator.
The petitioners argued that the wage law “is contrary to the provisions on living wages and income under the 1987 Constitution” and violative of the principles of equal protection of the law and the “equal pay for equal work” doctrine.
“RA 6727 is adverse to achieving a realizable living wage in the Philippines… minimum wages in the country have long failed to provide for an adequate living wage for laborers. This is due to the fact that the criteria in determining minimum wages, as defined by RA 6727, are patently erroneous, biased and, ultimately, unconstitutional,” they said.
The High Court was also asked to abolish the 17 Regional Wage Boards and set and standardize a national minimum wage all over the country.
The petitioners said the law led to different minimum wages, the highest of which is in the National Capital Region (NCR or Metro Manila) at P481.
In the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, they added, the minimum wage is P250.
“The equal protection clause means that no person or class of persons shall be deprived of the same protection of laws enjoyed by other persons or other classes in the same place in like circumstances,” the petitioners said.
“The main feature of RA 6727 is that it classified and divided Filipino laborers into 17 regions. All of these regions have different levels of minimum wages. It is the position of the petitioners that such classification is invalid and unconstitutional,” they added.
“This means that virtually most of Filipino laborers do not have bargaining power over their employers. That is why living wage legislation is important. The urgency of striking down RA 6727 cannot be stressed further. The government must step in to provide for an adequate living wage for the 99.9966 percent of Filipino laborers. Without such legislation, Filipino laborers will always be left at the mercy of unscrupulous employers and subject to exploitation and discrimination,” the petitioners said.