The P65 wage aims to recover the lost value of wages and to increase workers’ share of the fruits of their labor. This wage increase is the first step towards the struggle for a living wage. We are also demanding P3,500 wage increase for government workers.
It is no secret that prices have risen steadily in the past two years since the last round of wage adjustment was implemented, leading to the erosion of the real value of worker’s measly wages. In the National Capital Region (NCR), inflation has eaten up 7% of the minimum wage since February 2002. And according to the estimates of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), this is expected to further erode by at least 5% before the year ends. Ironically, this happened at a time when the country experienced a respectable annual growth of 4 – 4.5%.
Clearly, we, the working people, have been at the loosing end for far too long while foreign and local businesses continued to enjoy huge incentives and perks to keep their financial head above water: tax-free holidays; unhampered repatriation of their profits to foreign establishments; exemption from implementing the minimum wage; etc.
It is this sorry state that is driving ever-increasing numbers of workers to abject destitution and a perpetual hand-to-mouth existence. Of course President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is fully aware of this situation, however we have yet to see her take any initiative that would remedy the situation.
Now is her chance to do so. With the Congress and Senate in recess, it is well within the powers of Malacañang to immediately address the workers’ demand for wage increase.
Alongside the demand for wage increase, we are also demanding measures that would increase workers’ take-home pay: the suspension of withholding tax or higher tax exemptions and for the government to shoulder SSS, GSIS and PAG-IBIG contributions. We will also continue to press government to implement policies that would ensure full employment.
In this struggle, like any other workers’ struggle, labor unity is the categorical imperative. Workers must unite to strengthen its bargaining leverage against an elitist administration that is deaf and numb to the cries of the majority and against a unified employers sector that already issued its opposition to a wage increase. We therefore call upon all workers to join us in this fight.
In this struggle the real friends and enemies of the working class will no doubt be exposed especially in this election period where promises are a dime-a-dozen and sincerity is hard to find under all the rhetoric and polish of TRAPOs. We are thus challenging all national candidates to state their position on the wage issue.
If government will be indifferent to the demand for wage increase and wage recovery, then labor’s May 1 commemoration will be a protest movement that will build up to a protest vote on May 10. And we are prepared to fight a long battle, even beyond May 1 and May 10. If necessary, the struggle will continue and intensify under the newly elected administration and Congress.
List of Organizations Participating in BAWI
Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL)
Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP)
Confederation of Independent Unions in the Public Sector (CIU)
Federation of Free Workers (FFW)
Manggagawa para sa Kalayaan ng Bayan (MAKABAYAN)
National Confederation of Labor (NCL)
Other Labor Organizations
Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT)
Association of Genuine Labor Organization (AGLO)
Automotive Industry Workers’ Alliance (AIWA)
Bagong Kapisanan ng mga Manggagawa sa PNR
Council of Filipino Nestle Unions (CFNU)
Lapian at Gabay ng Mga Manggagawa (LAGMAN Federation)
League of Independent Bank Organizations (LIBO)
National Association of Trade Unions (NATU)
National Labor Union (NLU)
National Union of Bank Employees (NUBE)
Philippine Cement Workers’ Council (PCWC)
Philippine Metalworkers’ Alliance (PMA)
Postal Employee’s Union of the Philippines (PEUP)