SOUTHERN Tagalog Workers Oppose New Wage System
June 1, 2012 Cabuyao, Laguna – Regional trade union center Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan-Kilusang Mayo Uno (PAMANTIK-KMU) yet again expresses its opposition to the new wage system being implemented in the region.
After the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) of the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) IVA signed Wage Order IV-15 last March 28, 2012, the new wage system has been implemented in the region’s mainland provinces (CALABARZON).
The implementation shortly followed its initial publication on national newspaper on April 30, 2012, a day before the annual commemoration of the International Labor Day.
PAMANTIK-KMU has stated its rejection to the Wage Order during its Labor Day commemoration in different parts of the region, where more than 5,000 workers and other sectors once again called for a P125 across-the-board nationwide wage increase, among others.
The new wage order introduces a two-tiered wage policy wherein new terminologies such as ‘floor wage’, ‘Temporary Productivity Allowance (CTPA)’, and ‘Productivity Improvement and Incentives Committee (PIIC)’ are presented.
According to Section 1 of the said Wage Order, the floor wage is set at P255 per day with regards to the regional poverty threshold and the cost of living brought about by the price increases of basic commodities.
In addition to the floor wage comes the Productivity Based Pay, a wage adjustment based on the workers’ performance, cost of living, and the capacity of the private establishment, which shall be voluntarily implemented according to the latter’s judgment.
“This is a big insult to the legitimate calls of the workers in the region. Even before the previous Arroyo regime has declared the direct effects of the Global Financial and Economic Crisis to our country in 2009, the National Statistics and Coordinating Board (NSCB) has already set the daily family living wage (FLW) in Region IVA at P809 for a family of 5. Obviously, prices have increased since then, but the NSCB has failed to provide an updated and accurate FLW. Instead, they deliberately manipulated the computation to get the poverty threshold, in a way that it subjectively lowers the FLW.” says Wenecito Urgel, PAMANTIK-KMU Secretary-General.
Wage Order IVA-15 covers a P12.50 CTPA for workers earning at least P255/day.
“At the same time as P12.50 is a ridiculously low amount in relation to the continuously rising daily cost of living that is estimated to be close to P1000, the P255 floor wage is a subjective basis for wage increases and additional benefits. It is but a part of the state’s continuous efforts to misleadingly show that the present highest minimum wage in the region (P337) is more than sufficient. It is no different than the previous manipulations of the Aquino administration on poverty statistics, which evasively present fewer poor workers, thus taking away the need to legitimately call for wage increases.” added Urgel.
Retail and service establishments employing a maximum of 10 workers (with wage levels below P255/day) are directed to implement a staggered P2 to P90 wage increase within the next five years.
“As usual, the Department of Labor and Employment did not take into consideration the real value of workers’ wages in the region, as well as the apparent price fluctuations in the coming years, in setting the wage increase in tranches. Apart from this, the scope of the wage increase is very limited, as only those working in small enterprises [that are less capable of increasing their workers’ wages] are affected. Ironically, larger industries, multinational and transnational corporations present in the region are exempted from the said order.” Urgel explained.
Further wage increases for floor wage earners based on workers’ productivity shall be implemented by a Productivity Improvement and Incentives Committee (PIIC), a new organizational structure to be formed within the establishments.
In Southern Tagalog, numerous companies have been implementing a similar wage system based on workers’ productivity. Without considering the actual performance of the workers, companies have the prerogative to provide increases based on their ‘financial capacity’, and limit the scope of the implementation on regular workers, targeting a smaller number of ‘qualified’ workers.
Recent research of the National Coalition for the Protection of Workers’ Rights in Southern Tagalog (NCPWR-ST) in 2011 shows that barely 40% of the total workforce in the region are regular employees, the rest being contractual workers.
“Not only has it failed to recognize the minimum wage long-won by international labor movements, the two-tiered wage system demonstrates the DoLE and Aquino administration’s impotence in catering to the needs of the workers and the people. Worse, it has given full authority to greedy capitalists in subjectively determining workers’ productivity levels thus further deprive workers from just wage increases.” Said Urgel.
“As this only means worse working and living conditions for the workers and the people in Southern Tagalog, intensified campaigns and protest actions shall be expected from different workers’ groups to call for the junking of the said Wage Order and the various contractual employment schemes, and the implementation of the P125 wage hike.” Urgel ended.###