Workers deserve a living wage, not crumbs from wage boards

Workers have absolutely no use for the pittance allocated by the various regional wage boards in response to the widespread calls for a legislated wage hike from organized labor.

The regional wage boards are again proving themselves incompetent and insensitive to workers’ plight by approving measly amounts, P15 in Cebu and P25 in the NCR, in obvious deference to capitalist and employers’ interests. This comes as no surprise since wage boards have time and again proven that it is incapable of living up to its mandate of ensuring workers’ fair share in the fruits of their labor. Instead, the regional wage boards have done nothing but keep workers’ wages below poverty levels!

Amidst the context of never-ending oil price increases and government’s continued insistence on imposing onerous taxes such as the revised VAT system which will further strain the already depleted workers’ pockets, the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) reiterates its call for a living wage for all workers.

Living wage estimates for March 2005 reveal that a family of six needs at least P663 a day in the NCR and P638 per day in Cebu.

Despite the growing gap between the actual minimum wage and living wage levels, the Regional Wage Boards even managed to pull out a totally unacceptable figure.

To add insult to injury, only a handful of workers, if any at all, would actually enjoy the promised wage increase! After all, the wage order released by the NCR RTWPB merely calls for a “minimum wage adjustment.” This means that only those earning a basic salary of P250 per day are entitled to the said adjustment. Furthermore, the wage order contains numerous exemptions that, coupled with the existing Barangay Micro-Business Enterprise (BMBE) law that automatically exempts from paying the minimum wage all micro-enterprises with a capitalization of less than 3 million, would exclude at least 90% of all workers. Lastly, significant portions of employers do not comply with the minimum wage laws!

Now would be the best time to abolish the regional wage boards!

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