Monday, December 29, 2014

Increased 'de minimis' is good but we want discount card, too - labor group

Laborers buying snacks (file photo)

MANILA, Philippines -- While thanking the Aquino administration for increasing workers’ “de minimis” benefits by P10,000, a labor group said on Monday the government could do more for workers by providing them with discount cards they can use to purchase groceries or pay tuition, subsidized by unspent appropriations in the 2014 budget.

"We want to see President Benigno Aquino III make a long-lasting and meaningfully impacting reward in spending (the) 2014 excess annual budget for working Filipinos,” Gerard Seno, executive vice president of the Associated Labor Unions, said in a statement.

De minimis benefits are small benefits not covered by withholding tax that are given to employees on top of their wages and are supposed to go to workers’ health, company goodwill and efficiency.

Starting January, workers’ de minimis benefits will increase from the current P94,225, implemented in 2012, to P104,225.

Current de minimis coverage includea P750 medical cash allowance for dependents, P1,500 rice subsidy, P4,000 annual uniform and clothing allowance, P10,000 annual medical allowance, P300 laundry allowance, P10,000 for employees’ achievement award, P5,000 Christmas gifts and/or anniversary certificates, and 25 percent meal allowance for overtime work and nightshift in all regions.

Aside from proposing discount cards, ALU also suggested that government spend any budget surplus by building a workers’ center where local talent may be trained and certified based on the needs of the domestic labor market.

The discount card and workers’ center were among the 10 demands presented by the Nagkaisa labor coalition during their April 29 Labor Day breakfast with Aquino.

“We don’t want Mr. Aquino’s legacy for working people to be known for improving de minimis benefits alone. He can improve their lives by investing on a training center or impacting their lives with a discount card,” Seno said. - By: Lira Dalangin-Fernandez,

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