Labor Day demands: Wage hike, end ‘endo’

THE Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) has reiterated its demand to the government to approve a realistic minimum wage and terminate contractualization or “endo,” in time for the celebration of Labor Day today, May 1.

“We are reiterating our calls on the government to issue wage increase orders now rather than pass on the buck to the next administration. The Filipino workers has sacrificed for the last six years. In the last two months of this administration, we ask that minimum wages be raised,” the TUCP said in a statement.

The TUCP, the country's biggest group of workers, added that it has found empirically that the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte is not just perpetuating a policy of cheap labor, but also aiding and abetting the continuing injustice of minimum wages which cannot meet the needs of a family of five to live a decent life.

“Instead of acting with dispatch, both the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) and regional wage and productivity boards (RWPBs) are bound themselves in bureaucratic delay, countless rounds of hearing, and the clear politicking of merely dangling the hope that wage orders will be issued.”

The TUCP said it has already filed wage petitions in 10 regions, including the National Capital Region, and Regions 4A, 5, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13. It will next file petitions in Region 1 and the Cordillera Administrative Region.

Labor Undersecretary Benjo Benavidez, however, denied TUCP's accusation, saying that all RTWBs around the country were now deliberating on the proposed wage increases in their respective regions and would soon come up with recommendations.

“We are confident that in the coming months the wage boards will be able to come out with their decisions,” Benavidez said.

The TUCP said that the majority of existing jobs and new jobs are by-and-large contractual jobs, adding that “endo” has proliferated because of anti-union policies, foremost of which is the creation of the Joint Industrial Peace Council now known as the Alliance for Industrial Peace and Program (AIPP).

“The AIPP is nothing more than an instrument of state to send a chilling effect to the labor movement. Lest we misunderstand de facto state policy,” it said, adding that “the TUCP and its affiliates have received uninvited and unwelcome visits of PNP (Philippine National Police) and the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) elements to our office premises.”

Caring for OFWs

Duterte will lead today's Labor Day celebration in San Fernando, Pampanga with the opening of the Overseas Filipino Workers Hospital in the country.

Bello said the hospital, which is the first of its kind in the Philippines, will provide medical care for OFWs and implement subsidy programs of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.

“This hospital is in recognition of the valuable contribution of our modern-day heroes, the overseas Filipino workers, in the growth of our economy. This will serve as among the legacies that President Duterte can leave behind for our OFWs,” Bello said.

The P550-million hospital is built on a 1.5-hectare land parcel donated by the Provincial Government of Pampanga.

Periodic wage hike

Independent presidential candidate Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson said that salary rates of workers must increase in congruent with the price adjustments of basic commodities, which often occur whenever the value of petroleum products goes up.

“If the cost of living rises, we need to adjust the salary rate, otherwise, how can a family with three children, for example, survive? What should happen is the wage should adjust according to the current prices of basic commodities, and our DoLE must consistently monitor these and should not be neglecting our workers,” Lacson said during a town hall forum in Virac, Catanduanes on April 29.

Lacson added that based on the current prices of basic goods, the daily minimum wage of an average Filipino worker in Metro Manila should have already been adjusted to P652, or even P700, but it remains at P537 to 547 per day.

Peace and progress

In a related development, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the Department of National Defense (DND) renews its commitment to safeguard peace as it enjoins the country in celebrating Labor Day.

Lorenzana said the DND recognized the imbalance in opportunities and the need for improvement in order to achieve equitable access to dignified work for everyone.

“Among our efforts is our commitment to help rebel returnees reintegrate successfully with and become productive members of their communities after turning their backs on rebellion and violence,” he said.

“As the nation pays tribute to workers from all industries and walks of life, may we also be reminded of the importance of supporting peace and security efforts to ensure that economic progress will become viable and within reach for all Filipinos,” he added.

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