Workers slam DOLE for refusing to hike wages, ‘regularization hoax’
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Workers led by labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno picketed the Labor Department’s office in Intramuros today to condemn the department’s refusal to hike workers’ wages, saying workers urgently need a significant wage increase to help them cope with rising prices.
While ordering the country’s regional wage boards to hear petitions for a wage increase, Labor Sec. Rosalinda Baldoz made it clear that no wage increase will be granted earlier than May 27, in accordance with the one-year ban on increasing wages.
The Department of Labor and Employment’s National Wages and Productivity Commission has earlier said that increases in the prices of petroleum products do not constitute a “supervening event” for wages to be increased earlier than the ban’s end.
“Workers have not received a significant wage hike for more than nine years under the Arroyo regime and almost two years under the Aquino regime. The non-stop increase in the prices of petroleum products, aside from being an added burden by itself, is also causing the prices of basic goods and services to rise,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.
“It is highly insensitive for the Aquino government to refuse to recognize the oil price hikes as constituting a supervening event. Pres. Aquino is again showing the Filipino workers and people that he may be ‘Noynoying’ on workers’ demands but he is full of energy when it comes to protecting capitalists’ profits,” he added.
KMU cited a recent study by independent think-tank Ibon Foundation that show a 45 per cent increase in workers wages in the period 2001-2011, lower than the 62 per cent increase in prices in the same period.
The workers then proceeded to DOLE’s dialogue with members of the Philippine Association of Local Service Contractors or Palscon, the national organization of service providers, in Manila Hotel to condemn the department’s “regularization hoax.”
KMU said that the DOLE has been deceiving the public by claiming that contractuals will become regular workers because of Department Order No. 18-A Series of 2011, which the department released last December.
DOLE has been claiming that the department order strengthens workers’ security of tenure by outlawing the repeated hiring of contractuals for five- or six-month contracts.
“The new DO on contractualization does not automatically mean the regularization of contractuals, nor does it enhance their chance of becoming regulars. It has built-in loopholes taylor-fit for capitalists and labor contractors to exploit to prevent contractuals from being regularized,” said Labog.
KMU said that under the new DO, capitalists can can simply not rehire contractuals or refuse to renew contracts with a service contractor and replace it with another to prevent the regularization of contractuals.
“The department order is not good but bad news for contractuals and workers in general. Not only will it not lead to regularization, it will lead to frequent layoffs of workers. Workers will remain contractuals – but this time, they will be laid off from work more often,” Labog added.
Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson