No wage hike on May 1–DOLE
MANILA, Philippines—There will be no wage increase for workers on May 1, but there are as many as 400,000 job opportunities here and abroad, and the possibility of nonwage benefits when President Aquino sits down with various labor groups for breakfast on Labor Day.
This, according to Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, is what Filipino workers could look forward to as the country marks its 111th Labor Day celebration.
“We are not expecting any minimum wage increase announcement,” said Baldoz, explaining that the law prohibits the wage board from issuing successive wage orders within a year unless there is a “supervening condition,” or abrupt and sustained increases in the prices of oil, food and other essential commodities.
The last wage order issued by the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board-National Capital Region (RTWPB-NCR) took effect on June 3 last year and granted an additional P30 daily to Metro Manila workers in two tranches.
The labor official said President Aquino may also unveil several nonwage benefits during a breakfast forum with labor groups on May 1.
She added that the government was studying a resolution on various issues raised by labor leaders, including contractualization, tax exemption and social protection.
Baldoz said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) had also lined up over 70 job fairs in the country’s 16 regions to provide jobseekers, including new graduates and returning and displaced overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), a massive facility to find jobs.
To date, a total of 2,903 participating local employers and recruitment agencies will make available 406,706 local and overseas employment opportunities to jobseekers during the DOLE’s Job and Livelihood Fair on May 1.
The job vacancies range from managerial and professional, to technical, skilled and unskilled categories, Baldoz said, and will be offered by “participating employers in the business process outsourcing, tourism, banking and finance, hotel and restaurant, health and wellness and construction sectors.”
The first of the job fairs will kick off on April 30 at Camp Servillano Aquino in Tarlac City.
On May 1, job and livelihood fairs will be held at SM Supermalls in the National Capital Region.
Along with the simultaneous job fairs, the 16 DOLE regional offices have also prepared several employment and livelihood activities and services during the monthlong celebration of Labor Day, whose theme this year is “Manggagawang Pilipino: Handa sa Hamon ng Makabagong Panahon.”
Among the events being organized are livelihood fairs and counseling, product displays and sales, franchising exhibits, medical missions, career coaching seminars, skill training and livelihood skills demonstrations.
There will also be one-stop shops to facilitate the job application process for jobseekers.
Meanwhile, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) earlier filed a formal petition seeking an P85 increase in the daily minimum wage in Metro Manila, citing the continuing increase in the prices of basic commodities.
But DOLE-NCR Director Alan Macaraya said the one-year period does not end until June 3. “The wage board cannot entertain any wage petition within the one-year period. We can consider it filed with us, but we will not have any official action.”
Macaraya said DOLE will issue after May 1 a resolution on whether or not to give the TUCP petition due course.
“We just signed the resolution. But the decision of the board was to defer the release of the resolution until after Labor Day,” Macaraya said, citing the sensitivity of the issue.
“As far as the wage order is concerned, we have to follow procedures like conducting a public consultation or public hearing,” he added.
At the DOLE main office in Intramuros, the labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno held a picket to condemn what they called the Aquino administration’s policy of freezing and cutting wages through a new wage scheme.
The workers were referring to the two-tiered wage system.
“We are calling for the junking of this wage cut and wage freeze scheme and for the passage of the P125 wage hike bill. Workers need a significant wage hike, not a wage cut or a wage freeze, in order to cope with the rising prices of basic goods and services,” KMU chairman Elmer Labog said.
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