WORKERS affiliated with the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) are set to hold Labor Day protests today with the announcement of the government that there is no reason to grant a wage hike.
The KMU said it expects at least 100,000 workers to join protests across the country.
“Workers and advocates of workers’ rights have every reason to join this year’s Labor Day protests. (President Benigno) Aquino has been pressing down wages, signed the EDCA and is pushing for Cha-cha, showing the world just who his real ‘bosses’ are,” Roger Soluta, the group’s secretary general, said in a statement.
Protests and other activities will be held in 14 regions.
In Metro Manila, protestors will converge at Welcome Rotonda in Quezon City, Monumento in Caloocan City, Quirino, Stop N Shop, and Plaza Hernandez also in Manila in the morning and then march to Liwasang Bonifacio and then to Mendiola in the afternoon.
Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said there have to be “supervening events” before petitions for wage increase are entertained.
“First and foremost, the private employers are aware that they would have to wait for the wage order anniversary. As far as NCR is concerned, their wage anniversary is still for January, which was the date of the effectivity of the second tranche of the wage order,” Baldoz said.
Under the law, minimum wage rates are set by regional wage boards. Only one wage hike petition can be filed in a year.
“It is also stated in the law that unless there is a supervening event or the extraordinary increase in the prices of basic commodities then the regional tripartite wage board would not entertain a wage increase,” Baldoz added.
The government’s hardline stance was slammed by KMU.
“We are revolted by Aquino’s refusal to heed the call of workers and the poor for immediate economic relief through a significant wage hike and other measures. He is serving the US, not Filipinos; big foreign and local capitalists, not workers; and hacienderos like him, not farmers,” Soluta said.
The KMU also criticized the President for “pretending to be listening to workers’ demands while at the same time spitting on our faces by rejecting our demands.”
He was referring to their meeting on Monday with Aquino wherein the President rejected their appeal that minimum wage earners not be taxed.
Meanwhile, the militant women’s group Gabriela party-list said the situation of Filipino women workers under Aquino is evidence of his government’s failure in economic management.
Rep. Luz Ilagan explained that with the implementation of the two-tiered wage system, newly-employed workers and those classified as low-skilled are given so-called “floor wages” that is below the minimum wage.
“Workers and their families can barely survive on the minimum wage, what more with the floor wage?” Ilagan asked.
The group and the Makabayan bloc in Congress is pushing for the P125 legislated wage hike and will join protests today.
“There is no reason why women should not protest. Filipino women have found themselves in a situation worse than ever and they will be marching on Labor Day,” she said.
Vice President Jejomar Binay meanwhile said all Filipino workers “who form the backbone of our nation” should be honored today.
“Through the hard work of our workers, the Philippines continues to enjoy steady progress and economic growth. Filipino migrant workers, in particular, left behind their families in search of a better life and in the process have become instruments of development for our country. It is only fitting that the government repays their sacrifices with the commitment to empower our labor force with the means to access and enjoy the benefits of our economic expansion,” Binay said in a statement.
“Let us be reminded that Labor Day is more than just a holiday. It is a day of remembrance and appreciation to all Filipino workers here and abroad whose tireless efforts contribute to building and strengthening our nation,” he added.