No wage hike announcement from Duterte on Labor Day
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Labor Day saluted Filipino workers for their “great passion, integrity and professionalism” in everything that they do, whether locally or overseas.
“These qualities have not only brought economic gains to our country, but have also been a source of immense pride and encouragement among our people,” the president said in his last Labor Day message.
With only two months before the expiry of his term on June 30, Duterte exhorted workers to continue to work hard, not only for themselves but also for the Philippines.
But workers were disappointed that, even in his last Labor Day message, there was no mention of the wage hike they have repeatedly sought over the six years of the Duterte administration.
Amid fuel price increases
Although Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III ordered wage boards two months ago to hasten the processing of regional minimum wage adjustments, there were still no completed adjustments even with the successive fuel price increases.
Instead of acting with dispatch, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and regional wage boards have been held up in “bureaucratic delay, countless rounds of hearing and clear politicking of merely dangling the hope that wage orders will be issued,” the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) said in a statement on Sunday.
“The TUCP again reiterates its call on the government to issue wage increase orders now rather than pass the buck to the next administration,” the union federation said.
According to the DOLE, the wage board in Metro Manila has scheduled a hearing on May 5 on the wage hike petitions.
A number of petitions have been filed before the regional wage boards. The TUCP alone has filed wage hike petitions in at least 10 regions, including Metro Manila where the daily wage was last increased in 2018.
‘Unjust and inhumane’
On March 9, Bello said he had ordered all regional wage boards to study the possibility of an increase in the daily minimum wage amid “skyrocketing” fuel prices due to the Russia-Ukraine war.
Bello asked the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards to submit their recommendation by the end of April or before May.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros urged Bello to hasten the process because workers’ wages have been overtaken by the rising costs of food, transportation and public utilities in the last three years without regional minimum wage adjustments.
She described as “unjust and inhumane” conditions where the purchasing power of wages dips despite increase in worker productivity, saying that minimum wage should be commensurate with the amount of work rendered.
Vice President Leni Robredo, for her part, promised workers that she would push to increase the minimum wage and other benefits if she were elected president.
She made the pledge at a campaign rally at Araneta Coliseum where the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) exhorted its members to vote for Robredo and her running mate, Sen. Francis Pangilinan.
It was the first time the KMU endorsed a presidential candidate since the union federation’s founding in 1980, said KMU char Elmer “Bong” Labog, who is running for senator himself. —WITH REPORTS FROM JEROME ANING, DONA PAZZIBUGAN, JEANNETTE ANDRADE AND KRIXIA SUBINGSUBING
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