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Government, private sector workers stage

walkout for National Minimum Wage


Posted By Marya Salamat On November 21, 2014 @ 12:40 pm In * Latest Posts,Labor &
Employment,Labor & Employment - Front,Special Reports,Top Stories | Comments Disabled
SPECIAL REPORT: For decades now, workers have experienced worsening hunger and
poverty because of the intensifying attacks on the minimum wage while big businesses earn
superprofits and big bureaucrats become very wealthy.
By MARYA SALAMAT
Bulatlat.com [1]
MANILA The last time Filipino workers got a relatively substantial increase of P89 in
minimum wage was in July 1989, when the Philippine government enacted Republic Act 6727.
Since then, it imposed multiple wage levels in the country that, after 25 years, the labor sector
sees wage rationalization as just a modus operandi to press down workers wages.
The Regional Wage Boards issued a total of 275 wage orders from 1990 to present, giving just
P1 to P20 cost of living allowances that were integrated to minimum wages only in the following
year or so.
Government workers wage system was also changed in 1989, a month after the private sector,
via RA 6758. Dubbed as Salary Standardization Law, it revised their compensation and position
classification and pegged salary rates and increases for each especially when public sector
workers demanded hikes.
Twenty-five years after the Wage Rationalization Law and the Salary Standardization Law were
first implemented in the Philippines, the DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) said the
The Wage Rationalization Law was designed to ward off a significant wage hike and therefore
press down wages. It has contributed to the worsening hunger and poverty being experienced by
workers and their families, and should be junked, said Roger Soluta, secretary-general of
Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU).
The same happened to government workers whose top tier or top grade employees got the
highest increases while those in lower grades got the lowest.
This Thursday (Nov. 20), government and private sector workers simultaneously staged a
National Walkout in various cities all over the country to push for a law on National Minimum
Wage, and to demand its amount to be pegged for starters at P16,000 ($356).
The All Workers Unity said it is pegging its call for a National Minimum Wage at P16,000
($356) monthly because the amount is half of the Family Living Wage computed monthly. The
FLW, the research for which was originally undertaken by the government and has been
continued by independent think-tank Ibon Foundation, stood at P1,083 ($24) as of August 2014.
Under the campaign network All Workers Unity (AWU), Workers are fighting back against the
intensifying attacks on the minimum wage, said Elmer Bong Labog, chairman of the
Kilusang Mayo Uno and a member of AWU.
In Metro Manila, the workers picketed the Department of Labor and Employment main office
and assembled at the Supreme Court in Manila; the National Housing Authority, Department of
Agriculture, Department of Social Welfare and Development, National Printing Office,
Sandiganbayan, and Court of Tax Appeals in Quezon City; the Senate in Pasay City; and the
Metro Manila Development Authority in Makati City.

They also held walkouts in Baguio City, San Pablo City and Calamba in Laguna, Iloilo City,
Bacolod City, Cebu City, Davao City and Cotabato City.
In Baguio City, along Session Rd., members of the All UP Workers Alliance, Baguio General
Hospital Employees Association and Agrofoods Employees Union converged at the Post Office
grounds and held a short program during lunchtime. In Davao City, Rudy Aranjuez, national
chairperson of COURAGE-WATER and union president of Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Davao
City Water District (NAMADACWAD-COURAGE), led the picket outside their office.
Workers in the private and public sectors have come together to wage a stronger fight for higher
wages and the rolling back of attacks on the minimum wage. We are continuing and intensifying
workers historic struggle for a minimum wage, said Ferdie Gaite, National President of the
government employees national center COURAGE, another AWU member.
Attacks on wage
Aside from the salary standardization law and wage regionalization, workers from the public and
private sectors said wages are being attacked through other neoliberal changes in the
employment status. Neoliberal economic policies in workers experience resulted in greater
freedom for capitalists and employers to hire and fire workers and that meant changing the
employment status of a growing number of workers from regular to non-regular and contractual.
Coupled with reducing the minimum wages by fracturing the setting of amounts per region,
districts and per salary grade or position, a growing number of employees have become nonregular employees, even if they are clearly needed on the job and have been working for years.
For private sector workers, the Labor department issued orders that legalize contractualization
via outsourcing of what used to be regular workers jobs. For public sector workers, the
government issued freeze hiring and rationalization orders under which it staffed its offices
with contractual workers, emergency hirees, etc.
Freeze hiring in government started in 2004, when Executive Order 366 called for government
reorganization, a unionist with the National Housing Authority told Bulatlat.com. The
reorganization, she said, intends to reduce the bureaucracy, but it continues to hire without giving
benefits.
These moves reduced the headcount of all unions in the country, and thus reduced their
bargaining power. In the private sector, more than half now of big companies are estimated to be
made up of contractual or non-regular workers earning less than the minimum wage and
receiving little to no benefits.
In the public sector, nearly half of the employees of some government agencies are now made up
of non-regular emergency hirees, job order employees, etc. In the National Housing Authority,
for example, more than 1400 are regular and about the same headcount are non-regular.
Lolita Osit, treasurer of NHA Consolidated Union of Employees, said many non-regular
employees in their agency include engineers and architects who have been with them for years.
For decades now, workers have experienced worsening hunger and poverty because of the
intensifying attacks on the minimum wage while big businesses earn superprofits and big
bureaucrats become very wealthy, Jeannette Cawiding, Cordillera Regional Coordinator of
Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees
(COURAGE), said during their walkout.
Ferdie Gaite, national president of COURAGE, said a national minimum wage in the amount of
P16,000 ($356) monthly would provide workers a much-needed immediate relief. They said
their computation of the increasing profits of corporations and increasing government revenues
through the years showed that the demanded national minimum wage can actually be
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implemented.