Southern Tagalog as laboratory] Workers reject two-tiered wage system

Labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno reiterated its opposition to a new wage system which the Labor department has just implemented in the Southern Tagalog region, saying the system is a scheme to press down workers’ wages not only in the region but throughout the country.

With the signing of the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board IV-A’s Wage Order No. 15 last April 27, the Labor department implemented the “two-tiered wage system” in the Calabarzon region.

The system sets as first tier a mandatory floor wage fixed by the regional wage board based on poverty indicators while a second tier is composed of increases which companies have the option of implementing based on their level of productivity.

“The two-tiered wage system, in its very concept and as shown by its implementation in Calabarzon, is an anti-worker scheme to reduce workers’ wages. It is about setting a very meager floor wage and allowing capitalists to increase wages based on their caprice,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.

“Through this system, the government is further abandoning its duty of setting a minimum wage and is allowing capitalists to dictate wages. History teaches us that the minimum wage was devised to at least cushion capitalists’ drive to press down wages to the lowest possible level,” he added.

A P255 floor wage was set in Calabarzon and wage levels below P255 will be increased by amounts from P2.00 to P90.00 over a five-year period while wage levels above P255 will be given a P12.50 conditional temporary productivity allowance.

Productivity-based wage increases will be approved by Productivity Improvement and Incentives Committees which will be created in workplaces.

“We vow to hold protests in the coming weeks and months to call for the junking of the two-tiered wage system, at the same time that we are calling for a P125 across-the-board wage hike nationwide and the junking of contractual employment,” Labog said.

“It should be recalled that the imposition of a minimum wage is a victory won by the international trade-union movement through various uprisings against capitalists’ imposition of wages,” he said.

“By rolling back workers’ victories and plunging workers back to the time when capitalists unilaterally dictate wages, the Aquino government is laying the basis for workers’ and people’s uprisings in the immediate future,” he added

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