P10 COLA, signal of ‘libing’ wage for workers – KMU

“Instead of living, workers could only get libing (burial) wages under Aquino.”

This was the statement of labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno following today’s implementation of the P10 Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) for workers in the National Capital Region.

According to KMU chairperson Elmer “Bong” Labog, the P10 COLA marks the beginning of a five-year wage freeze under the newly-implemented Two-Tiered Wage System.

“The timing of the implementation of the P10 COLA for NCR workers is perfect. Through meager wage hikes and COLA’s, this government has been putting a gravestone on workers’ hopes for a living wage,” Labog said.

“Workers’ right to a living wage would be buried. There would be no more hikes for the next five years under the Aquino government’s new wage system,” he added.

“The basic wage in Metro Manila is still P426 and the P30 COLA which the Aquino government approved this year does little to bring the minimum wage closer to the Family Living Wage,” he said, citing independent think-tank Ibon Foundation’s study showing the Family Living Wage in Metro Manila to reaching P993 in April 2011.

Under the new wage system, the P426 minimum wage plus the P30 COLA would be set as the floor wage which, according to the Department of Labor and Employment, would be the new minimum wage and would no longer be increased for the next 5 years at least.

The situation in the Calabarzon area is more straightforward, the labor center said, because the P337 minimum wage will be replaced by a P255 floor wage – clearly a cut of P82 or almost 25 per cent.

“Instead of heeding workers’ call for a substantial wage hike, Aquino gives us this new wage system which is basically a wage cut and wage freeze scheme. This wage scheme puts workers farther from a living wage,” Labog said.

“This scheme is part of Aquino’s Cheap Labor Policy which aims to further press down wages to boost capitalists’ profits. It is an addition to this government’s refusal to hike wages by a significant amount, its promotion of contractual employment, and its attacks on workers’ right to unionize and hold strikes,” he added.

KMU called for the junking of the Two-Tiered Wage System and vowed to hold bigger protests in the coming weeks to condemn this anti-worker policy.

“Workers need a substantial wage hike, not a substantial wage cut. We need living wages not libing wages. If Aquino persists in his policy of pressing down wages, we are geared to give him one big fight,” Labog said.

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