Workers push House to immediately pass P125 wage hike bill

January 21, 2013

Picket for P125 wage hike in front of Batasan Pambansa. (PW Photo)

Picket for P125 wage hike in front of Batasan Pambansa. (PW Photo)

Militant workers asked the House of Representatives to immediately pass the P125 across-the-board wage hike bill, nine days before the start of election campaign on February 12.

In a statement, the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU, May First Movement) said that this is the opportune time for Congress to move for a meaningful wage hike for workers, after the bill’s approval by the House Sub-Committee on Labor Standards.

In a Luzon wide consultation in Benguet province, the sub-committee approved the bill. Two regional consultations in the Visayas and in Mindanao were also previously held.

“We hope that the COLE (Committee on Labor and Employment) acts on the bill fast enough so that the workers’ demand for a significant wage hike gets the chance of being deliberated and voted on in the House plenary (before Congress adjourns),” said Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general.

“Congress only has nine session-days left before the start of the 2013 electoral campaign period on February 12, 2013. We appeal to House Speaker Rep. Feliciano Belmonte Jr. to give priority to the wage hike bill,” said Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano.

Mariano led the filing of House Bill 375 that seeks to legislate a P125 across the board wage increase for private sector, on July 1, 2010.

For more than a decade, the P125 wage hike bill had been pending in the Lower House. A similar bill was filed by the late Rep. Crispin Beltran in 2001. Since then, it was refiled again and again, but was met with staunch opposition from the business sector.

“Workers need it now more than ever. Filipino workers need some form of immediate relief from the prices of basic goods and services that have soared through the years,” Soluta said.

KMU cited an April 2012 study of independent think-tank Ibon Foundation that said the gap between the minimum wage in the National Capital Region, the highest in the country, and the cost of living has widened in the past 10 years.

In 2001, the NCR minimum wage was 52% of the Family Living Wage, which is computed-based on the methodology previously used by the National Wages and Productivity Commission. By the end of 2011, the percentage was reduced to 43%.

The group also added the gap is proof that the incremental adjustments being granted by the country’s wage boards are not enough to help workers cope with rising prices and what is needed is to legislate a significant wage hike.

“For sure, the Aquino government and big capitalists will respond with their doomsday scenarios should this bill is passed. They always try to counter this measure, which is highly beneficial to workers, with threats of retrenchment and inflation,” Soluta said.

KMU vowed to insentify their protest to call for the immediate passage of the bill.