“Workers are not beggars, don’t give them alms and crumbs” – Anakpawis solon

Anakpawis Rep. Rafael V. Mariano today said “the P22 Emergency Cost of Living Allowance (ECOLA) granted by the wage board is a grave insult to workers and their families. It is far from enough to augment the widening gap of the daily cost of living and cushion the damaging impacts of successive price hikes.”

“While the government chose to give workers crumbs, President Benigno Aquino III became richer by P4.5 million after just a year in office. Workers are not beggars, don’t give them alms,” said the solon who authored House Bill 375 calling for the granting of a P125 daily across-the-board legislated wage increase.

“It is high time to abolish the regional tripartite wages and productivity boards for its callous and inconsiderate determination of wage hikes for Filipino workers. Wage boards were created to undermine the workers’ just fight for a national minimum wage and serves only in securing the profit margins of employers and capitalists.”

Mariano reiterated this call in light of the National Capital Region wage board’s approval of a P22 ECOLA for Metro Manila-based workers in the private sector. The solon will file a bill repealing Republic Act 6727 or the Wage Rationalization Act of 1987 approved during the presidency of Corazon C. Aquino.

The solon said that a P22 ECOLA has a real value of P12.83 based on April 2011 Consumer Price Index. The P22 allowance will not be used in the computation of overtime, night differential, 13-month pay, retirement and other benefits of workers.

“Regionalized wage-fixing kept workers’ wages pegged to the basement floor,” the solon said. Citing a report by the Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER), Mariano said real value of wages stagnated in the past 15 years even with wage orders issued by the regional wage boards. Based on the Yearbook of Labor Statistics released by the Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics, the latest index of compensation, as of 2009, was 112.9 – exactly the same as during 1995.

“The Aquino government, through the wage boards, is continuing the wage freeze policy institutionalized by the past administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Soon enough, workers will declare Aquino as workers’ enemy number one because of his anti-poor and pro-capitalist stance,” Mariano further said.

In recent years, the government only approved very meager allowances and refused to grant significant wage hikes for workers despite the strong public clamor for a ‘living wage’ amidst increasing cost of living.

Mariano, a member of the House Committee on Labor and Employment, urged Congress to fast track the deliberation of HB 375. Regional consultation in Visayas for the legislated wage increase measure is slated on June 2 to 3.