Labor groups slam Laguesma for opposing wage hike proposals
‘ANTILABOR IMBALANCE’

Labor groups slam Laguesma for opposing wage hike proposals

By: - Reporter / @JeromeAningINQ
/ 05:36 AM May 11, 2024

Labor groups slam Laguesma for opposing wage hike proposals

Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma holds a Pre-Labor Day Press Conference on Friday, April 26, 2024. | PHOTO: Noy Morcoso / INQUIRER.net

Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma continues to draw flak from labor groups after repeating his claim that legislated wage hike bills pending in Congress, if approved, could displace workers, lead to further inflation and result in a decline of gross domestic product (GDP) growth.

In a statement on Friday, the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (Sentro) expressed its “profound dissatisfaction” over Laguesma’s position and described the Dole’s continued opposition to the wage hike bills as a “betrayal”

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“Laguesma’s position does not reflect the principle of tripartism and social dialogue. Rather, his consistent echoing of employers’ unfounded positions has him sounding more as a spokesperson of [employers] rather than an impartial labor secretary,” Sentro secretary general Josua Mata said.

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Sentro called on President Marcos to respond to the plight of workers by address the systemic roots of poverty and chronic poverty wages. The group said it is “an undeniable fact that wages today are not sufficient to live decently so it is incumbent upon the government to adopt a position addressing workers’ concerns.”

“If the current [labor] secretary is an impediment to such a direction, then Laguesma should step aside to let this government pursue its mandate. The workers of the Philippines are languishing. We need a government, and a department of labor that seriously protects and advances the interests of working people. Mr. Laguesma, if you cannot protect our workers, then you do not deserve to be Dole secretary,” it said.

Laguesma has shrugged off criticisms, pointing out that employers and workers are both Dole’s constituents, so the agency must “strike a balance.”

“They may say that we’re siding with one sector but the name of our department [has the words] ‘labor and employment.’ We have to take care of labor but we have to take care also of employment because at the end of the day, as the two sectors themselves admit, if there are no workers there is no capital [and] if there is no capital, there are no workers,” he said in a media forum in Manila on Wednesday.

Employers deserve profit

He said employers also deserve reasonable returns on their investments and funds for expansion as much as workers need a pay raise to cope with inflation.

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) on Thursday said it “has had enough” of Laguesma’s claims on wage increases, adding that “[his] capability to competently do his job to protect workers and promote gainful employment is “squarely in serious question” and that he was acting more like the spokesperson of employers.

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TUCP said Laguesma’s warnings that raising workers’ wages through legislation could bring massive inflation, unemployment and business closures were “all false and mere speculations already demolished by the academe, think tanks, and economists.”

The Federation of Free Workers (FFW) has also said that contrary to Laguesma’s position, “a reasonable and just wage increase is not only necessary but also beneficial for workers and the economy.”

“FFW believes that a reasonable and just wage increase is not only necessary but also beneficial for workers and the economy. It can improve the quality of life for workers, reduce inequality, and stimulate consumer spending, which in turn can drive economic growth,” said the group’s president, lawyer Sonny Matula.

The country’s major labor groups have formed the National Wage Coalition to press Congress for to raise wages to improve the standard of living for Filipino workers and help curb poverty and hunger.

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The House committee on labor is set to vote on a P150 across-the-board wage increase on May 15. The Senate passed a P100-minimum wage increase measure last February.

TAGS: Labor, Laguesma

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