Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Labor coalition counters employers' arguments against P150 wage hike proposal

The objections raised by the Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) and other business groups against the P150 legislated wage hike proposal stand on hollow ground. 

The Nagkaisa Labor Coalition maintains that correlations between wage hikes and job losses are largely speculative as there is neither substantial nor empirical evidence linking wage growth to massive unemployment. This is besides the fact that small firms, under RA 6727 and the Barangay Micro-Enterprise Business (BMBE) law, are allowed to avail exemptions from wage hikes.

On the contrary, we believe wage hikes reward the economy as increases in workers’ take-home pay spur growth in aggregate demand which in turn makes creation of new jobs more possible. Furthermore, wage growth enhances productivity by making inefficient and anti-labor firms more compliant with general labor standards.

Nagkaisa cites as a good example the P25 wage increase nationwide enacted in 1989. Despite such substantial wage hike nationwide and the coup attempts that followed, contrary to employers' logic, it did not lead to substantial job losses. GDP growth, in fact, reached a high of 5.8% between that period until we got hit by the Asian financial crisis in 1997. 

The P150 wage proposal is 24.59% of the P610 daily wage in NCR compared with the P25 which is 39.1% increase in 1989. The increase would be higher in BARMM, 43.99% of P341, but which is also necessary because of higher poverty rate in the region. 

On the topic of employers suggesting wage adjustments through Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) and wage boards, Nagkaisa appreciates wage enhancements via CBAs. However, we urge employers to refrain from adopting a hostile stance towards union formation in workplaces. In reality, a significant number of employers view freedom of association with hostility and skepticism. They perceive unions as adversarial forces. To make matters worse, the government, through the NTF-ELCAC, largely consider trade unions as one of the enemies in their on-going anti-insurgency campaign.

It is also crucial to note that union representation among workers stands at less than 2 million. Additionally, 5 to 10 million of workers are contractually tied to manpower agencies or cooperatives, a strategy often leveraged by major corporations to bypass more substantial wage commitments.

To add, the wage boards have, over the past 34 years, consistently sanctioned only marginal or inconsequential wage increments.

In conclusion, Nagkaisa remains unwavering in its dedication to the rights and welfare of Filipino workers. We are confident that with open conversation and a well-informed approach, a harmonious resolution beneficial for both employees and employers can be achieved. 

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