Workers dub P10 pay hike ‘insulting, cruel Napoles joke’

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Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldo. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Labor groups on Saturday expressed dismay over the P10 wage hike for minimum wage earners in Metro Manila which was announced on Friday by Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz.

The militant Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) called it “an insult to Filipino workers who are already suffering from worsening hunger and poverty.”

“The resulting basic pay of P451 and the P15 cost of living allowance (Cola) does not even amount to half of the NCR Family Living Wage which, according to independent think-tank Ibon Foundation in its May 2013 study, is already at P1,034,” the group said.

“This pitiful increase, merely equivalent to ‘pig feed,’ makes Filipino workers more painfully aware of the gross inequality in the country. Workers are being given alms while big politicians enjoy huge amounts of the people’s money in the form of pork barrel funds,” it added.

Baldoz said Friday that the Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity Board of the National Capital Region (RTWPB-NCR) decided to raise the minimum wage by P10 per day upon the effectivity of the wage order.

The new wage order is expected to take effect 15 days after its publication in a newspaper of general circulation.

“The RTWPB-NCR also decided to integrate P15 of the existing P30 Cola under RTWPB-NCR Wage Order No. 17 into the basic wage effective Jan. 1, 2014. This will bring the new basic wage to P451 and the new minimum wage to P466,” Baldoz said.

The KMU reiterated its call for a significant wage hike, such as the P125 across-the-board wage increase that workers have long been clamoring for.

It also vowed to hold bigger protests to press for a significant wage hike and the abolition of the presidential pork barrel and the pork barrel system.

The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) also slammed the P10 hike, calling it a “cruel Napoles joke” inflicted on the workers.

“Janet Napoles stole P10 billion of the people’s money and the government offers P10 in coins to workers as a consolation. While the people’s attention is focused on the billion-peso pork barrel scam, the wage board thinks it can quietly dupe workers with a measly pay increase,” said PM spokesperson Wilson Fortaleza.

He added that the P10 wage hike was a “dagdag-bawi (give-take back) scam.”

“Government decides to give workers a P10 hike in wages but it will take it back with the proposed P10 increase in fares for the MRT and LRT. Further, prices of basic goods like rice have inflated so that in the end, the workers are worse off than before,” Fortaleza said.

Baldoz defended the wage hike, saying that the Metro Manila wage board had increased the minimum wage in the NCR 12 times for a total of P268 per day, or more than double the P125 across-the-board wage increase that some labor groups had been clamoring for for 14 years now.

“Our workers’ take-home pay has increased to P11,240 per month, or by 2.1 percent, compared to the current P11,005 per month. Our workers will get a bigger 13th month pay of P11,651 or an increase of about 5.9 as a result of the Cola integration,” she said.

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