Candidates dared: back P125 wage hike for workers

One week after politicians filed certificates of candidacy before the Commission on Elections, workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno dared the candidates at a picket in Mendiola this morning to back calls for a P125 across-the-board wage hike nationwide.

The workers carried a tarpaulin streamer bearing the faces of presidentiables Jojo Binay, Grace Poe, Mar Roxas and Miriam Defensor-Santiago, the faces of vice-presidentiables Alan Cayetano, Chiz Escudero, Gringo Honasan, Bongbong Marcos, Leni Robredo and Antonio Trillanes, and their call.

KMU said that Filipino workers need a significant wage increase in the form of a P125 across-the-board wage hike now more than ever, after wages were severely pressed down under the presidency of Noynoy Aquino.

“Filipino workers and their families experience hunger and indebtedness as they face the 2016 elections. We want workers’ wages to be one of the main agenda in the national discussion before the elections. That’s why we dare all candidates for national positions to bare their stand on our call for a P125 wage hike,” said Jerome Adonis, KMU secretary-general.

The labor leader said that some of the presidential and vice-presidential candidates may further expose themselves as extremely pro-capitalist and anti-worker and express outright opposition to the call.

He also cited independent think-tank Ibon Foundation’s mid-year study which shows that the Family Living Wage, or the amount needed daily by an average Filipino family to live decently, stands at P1,088 – a far cry from the P481 minimum wage in Metro Manila, the highest in the country.

“Only a significant wage hike, and not the meager adjustments approved by the country’s regional wage boards, could bring relief to workers suffering from hunger and indebtedness. This is something all candidates for national positions should understand,” Adonis added.

KMU also said the results of a Pulse Asia survey, conducted from May 30 to June 5, in which 47 percent and 46 percent of respondents said they were concerned about lower inflation and higher wages, respectively, truly reflect workers’ demands to candidates in the 2016 elections.

The labor group is also calling for a National Minimum Wage, saying the regionalization of wages should be ended and the regional wage boards abolished, in order to uphold workers’ right to a minimum wage.

Workers, public told: intensify calls for tax relief

12112432_1631751257099132_6763627468621082292_nResponding to the Aquino government’s expression of willingness to lower income taxes, national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno called on workers and public to intensify calls for a tax relief.

The labor group said statements released by Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., Senate President Franklin Drilon, and House Speaker Sonny Belmonte last Tuesday expressing openness to proposals for tax relief were brought about by popular clamor coming from workers and the public.

KMU also warned the Aquino government not to exploit calls to lower the income taxes of ordinary Filipinos to further lower taxes being paid by big corporations and to increase the Value-Added Tax from 12 percent to 14 percent.

“The Aquino government was forced to take back its outright rejection of calls for tax relief because of widespread and growing calls coming from workers and the public. Let us make our calls louder so we can force this government to give us some form of tax relief,” said Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.

The labor leader also said that Liberal Party candidates, most especially presidentiable Mar Roxas and vice-presidentiable Leni Robredo, would become even more unpopular if the Aquino government rejects calls for tax relief.

“Tax relief for workers and ordinary Filipinos is a legitimate election issue. Roxas, Robredo and other Liberal Party candidates would surely lose more votes if the Aquino government rejects calls for lower income taxes,” Labog added.

KMU has been calling for the passage of House Bill 5401, filed by Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, which seeks to exempt low-income families earning a maximum of P396,000 annually from income tax.

“This government has sucked workers and Filipinos dry through intolerably high taxes. It should be forced by workers and ordinary Filipinos to give us a relief from high taxes before it finishes its term,” Labog stated.

A study of the Tax Management Association of the Philippines (TMAP) shows that while Filipinos earning P500,000 annually is taxed at 32 percent, our ASEAN neighbors with equivalent income are taxed at the lower rates: Vietnam (20 percent), Cambodia (20 percent), Laos (12 percent), Malaysia (11 percent), Thailand (10 percent), Singapore (2 percent), and Brunei (no taxes).