Sunday, May 21, 2023

Nagkaisa debunks business group’s arguments against legislated wage increase

The Nagkaisa Labor Coalition refutes strongly preposterous and misleading argument put forth by certain business groups that only a minority will benefit from the proposed legislative wage increase and as a result, raising wages will send 50 million workers begging for ayuda. 

The business groups recently claimed that increasing wages would only benefit a small percentage of the total workforce, stating that approximately 16 percent or about eight million workers in the formal sector out of the total 50 million Filipino workers would be eligible for the wage hike. 

This line of argument tries to draw a trade-off between workers in the formal and informal sector to diffuse employers’ direct accountability to their workers, hoping that by painting this ‘little-to-no effect’ and hyperinflation scenario, lawmakers would reconsider passing a legislated wage measure. 

We contend that the miserable state of the 50 million workers or more, which is a bigger agenda than a wage hike, is not for the workers to solve but for the government and the capitalist class which failed to address problems of chronic poverty and inequality in the country for decades. 

And certainly, keeping minimum wages at starvation level perpetuates the problem, thus, telling minimum wage workers to sacrifice further on behalf of their poorer brothers and sisters in the working class does not solve anything except the comfort of businesses to keep their profit margins when wages are kept at bare minimum. 

The business’ arguments fail to consider the broader economic effects and undermines the crucial role of fair wages in driving sustainable growth. Contrary to their claims, raising wages will have a significant positive impact on the economy and the majority of Filipino workers.

It is vital to recognize that the well-being of workers and economic growth are interconnected. By ensuring fair wages for a significant portion of the workforce, we can create a positive ripple effect that stimulates economic activity, increases consumer spending power, and fosters social progress. The 16 percent of workers who will experience increased wages will contribute to a healthier economic climate, benefiting businesses and workers alike.

In addition, the economic benefits of wage increase can help address the persistent issue of malnutrition in the Philippines. UNICEF data reveals the severity of malnutrition in the country, with devastating consequences for the future of Filipino children. Every day, 95 children die from malnutrition, and twenty-seven out of 1,000 Filipino children do not get past their fifth birthday. Shockingly, one-third of Filipino children are stunted, meaning they are short for their age. Stunting after the age of 2 can have permanent, irreversible, and even fatal effects. Needless to say, that malnutrition is the culprit behind the country’s dismal below-average IQ ranking of the Philippines in the World Population Review 2023 (WPR). 

These distressing statistics underscore the urgent need for action. A significant wage increase plays a crucial role in combatting malnutrition by enabling families to afford nutritious food, access healthcare, and provide a better quality of life for their children. By addressing the root causes of malnutrition through improved wages, we can protect the future generation of Filipinos from the devastating effects of undernutrition.

We maintain that the first key advantage of higher wages is that workers have more money at their disposal. With increased purchasing power, workers are empowered to spend on essential goods and services, thereby driving consumer demand. This heightened consumer spending not only benefits businesses directly but also stimulate overall economic activity, contributing to a positive economic cycle.

Secondly, higher wages can foster employee loyalty and motivation. When workers are fairly compensated for their efforts, they feel valued and are more likely to be engaged and productive in their roles. This improved productivity can enhance business efficiency and output, further bolstering economic growth.

Likewise, a workforce with higher wages projects stability and helps attract investments. Investors are drawn to countries or regions where workers have decent wages, as it signifies a stable and growing consumer base. Such countries are viewed as favorable investment destinations due to the potential for increased sales and profitability. By implementing higher wages, nations can position themselves as attractive markets for both domestic and foreign investment, spurring economic development and job creation.

Therefore, it is crucial for policymakers and businesses to recognize that investing in workers through higher wages yields significant long-term benefits. The positive effects cascade throughout the economy, generating a multiplier effect that contributes to overall prosperity. 

Friday, May 19, 2023

Nagkaisa joins call for re-nationalization of national grid, gov’t takeover of Malampaya

The country’s biggest labor coalition joins the mounting call for the re-nationalization of the national transmission assets in the wake of recurring power interruptions hitting Luzon and now extending into the entire Visayas grid.

We are aware that it is not only the businesses which bear the cost of the diminishing power supply situation, but more so the working class who are made to suffer the 20-40% increase in electricity inflation due to rising fuel costs in power generation, coupled with inefficiencies and transmission-related problems.  

For several decades now, workers witnessed how public utilities handed over to private corporations led mainly to wealth transfers from public to private rather than to better and more affordable services. We see them in power, water, and even telcos whose private owners wallow in profit, even during the pandemic, while much of the public remain energy poor and lacking adequate water and telco services. 

However, we call on the senators who want to get rid of Chinese control in the NGCP to extend the shakedown and reforms to local consortiums who wield monopoly or cartel power in the unbundled sectors of the industry.

We refuse to believe that simply getting these industries back to Filipinos would automatically translate to pro-worker and pro-people policies, until the State ensures it in the name of the people through sound regulation, or through democratization via people’s participation in running these industries and the whole economy as well. 

The same framework should be applied on the issue of Malampaya, which extended operations should have been restructured to promote national ownership, or socialization of its assets in favor of alternative utilization that would address both the country’s need for revenue as well as its planned transition to sustainable development. 

Unfortunately, those opportunities were all lost with the takeover of Dennis Uy and Ricky Razon. 

Friday, May 12, 2023

NAGKAISA is Not Suprised, Welcomes Acquital of Sen De Lima

The Nagkaisa Labor Coalition is elated with former Sen. Leila De Lima's victory for justice in the Philippines.

Anim na taon, subalit hindi tayo sumusuko! We are happy and delighted to know that Senator Leila de Lima, who has long been an advocate for social justice and human rights, has been acquitted in two of the three drug-related cases lodged against her. This outcome, while long overdue, brings us much closer to the justice we have always sought.

Her acquittal was long overdue. Thus, we are not surprised by her acquittal, as we are aware from the start that the charges against her were fabricated by those in power

The saying goes, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." These recent verdicts affirm this belief, proving that justice, although delayed, can eventually prevail.

Senator de Lima's plight has been a microcosm of the challenges faced by those who dare to challenge the status quo and fight for justice, equality, and freedom. Her courage and resilience amid these trials are truly commendable and serve as a beacon of hope for all those who value democracy and the rule of law.

However, the journey is not yet over. As the third case against Senator de Lima is still under trial, we strongly call on the judiciary to grant her the right to post bail. We believe in her innocence and that she must be accorded due process.

We stand in solidarity with Senator de Lima, as well as all individuals who have been unjustly accused and whose freedoms have been unfairly curtailed. We will continue to fight for justice, fairness, and the protection of our democratic principles.

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Nagkaisa Labor Coalition Urges Gov't to Take Bold Steps to Address Workers' Issues, as Philippines Among 24 Shortlisted Countries for Examination in the ILO Geneva Conference in June

The lagest labor coalition in the country is calling on the Marcos administration to take concrete actions to address the issues and concerns of workers, as the country is among the 24 shortlisted countries for examination during the upcoming International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva in June. This comes as the Philippines marks its 75th year of membership in the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The Nagkaisa Labor Coalition highlights that the Philippines is included in the long list of ILO Committee on the Application of Standards (CAS) due to 69 reported killings of trade union leaders and organizers, and about 400 other violations of Convention 87. 

Nagkaisa holds that  the lack of representation from workers and employers in the current Executive Order 23 (EO23) signed by President Bongbong Marcos also contributed to the Philippines' inclusion in the list.

While it is a positive step forward, the current EO23 fails to address the significant problem that workers face in exercising their freedom to form unions or associations. To address this issue, the coalition proposes its amendments to transform it into a tripartite commission, consisting of representatives from the government and representatives from workers and employers groups in accordance with the principle of "tripartism and social dialogue" of ILO Convention 144 and the principles  of "shared responsibility" and "participation in decision-making' under the Constitution and the Labor Code . This body would serve as the primary mechanism for addressing worker issues and seeking justice for the countless victims of violations of Freedom of Association (FOA) and Trade Union (TU) rights.

Trade unions  heard Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma  on his call to proposed solutions or positive actions. Thus, Nagkaisa urgges him to schedule a meeting with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for trade union leaders to present personally the proposed amendments to the EO and other suggestions in order to improve the situation of workers and hold those accountable for violations of FOA and TU rights.

The coalition emphasizes that unless the government takes substantial steps to demonstrate its intention to heed the recommendations of the ILO High-Level Tripartite Mission (HLTM) beyond the issuance of  EO23, the country will undoubtedly face scrutiny by the ILO.

It is time for the government to act and demonstrate its dedication to upholding the principles of decent work and social justice for all.