NEDA’s position vs wage hike, an insult to workers  

Workers’ unions led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno held a nationally coordinated noise barrage protest to condemn Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and National Economic and Development Authority director general Ernesto Pernia’s attack against workers’ legitimate demand for a substantial wage hike.

Simultaneous noise barrage protests were held outside factories and in workers’ concentration areas around Metro Manila, Cavite and Laguna to demand the implementation of a National Minimum Wage of 750 pesos a day for private sector workers and 16,000 pesos monthly for government employees.

“Change has not come to NEDA. We are enraged over director Pernia’s insulting statements that wage increases are counterproductive. He is merely echoing the same anti-worker reasoning used by the Aquino government to deny us of a substantial wage hike amidst our worsening poverty and hunger,” KMU chairperson Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog said.

The labor center insisted that capitalists are more than capable of giving a substantial wage increase citing independent think-tank IBON Foundation’s study which showed that implementing a National Minimum Wage of P750 would only amount to a 30% decrease in profits, leaving employers a significant 70% of their clean profits.

“A National Minimum Wage of 750 pesos can and should be implemented. Increasing workers’ wages is not counterproductive. In fact, higher wages, proper benefits and decent working conditions, can increase workers’ productivity and purchasing power which will in turn revitalize the domestic market” Labog said.

The labor leader also slammed Pernia’s claim that minimum wage increases would result to massive lay-offs saying it is an absurd and baseless justification to further press down wages and reject Filipino workers’ demands for a National Minimum Wage.

“For the longest time, the minimum wage in the country has already been at poverty and starvation levels yet unemployment continue to worsen. There has been no significant wage increase for decades yet thousands of workers are being laid-off for exercising their rights to unionize” Labog said.

Labog insisted that even with the current measly minimum wage, previous administrations have failed to create decent jobs in the country citing IBON Foundation’s data showing that 24.4 million or around 63% of total employed are actually in poor quality work, consisting of: non-regular and agency-hired workers (6.6 million), private households (2.0 million), self-employed without paid employee (10.7 million), employer in own family-operated farm or business (1.2 million), or unpaid family work (3.9 million).

“If the Duterte administration is truthful in its promise of change, it should reject NEDA’s anti-worker position. Duterte should distinct itself from previous administration’s economic policies that are detrimental to workers by declaring national industrialization as its development policy. Only through such policy can the government ensure the creation of decent jobs, living wages and genuine development in the country” Labog ended.