Church and labor groups demand wage increase as Labor Day approaches

By Nuel M. Bacarra

The Church People-Workers Solidarity (CWS) said it supports the clamor of labor unions in the country for a substantial wage increase, adding it is just and urgent.

In a statement Thursday, San Carlos Bishop and CWS chairperson Gerardo Alminaza said his group supports the Makabayan bloc bill seeking a P750 daily wage increase to help workers meet the P1,161.00 daily minimum living cost.

Alminaza said the government may approve the P750 daily wage increase bill submitted by the Makabayan bloc at the House of Representatives for workers to meet the current living wage of P1,161.00.

Senate President Miguel Zubiri’s Bill No. 2002 meanwhile seeks a P150 daily wage increase that aligns with a recent wage increase petition filed by the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines.

“CWS supports the proposal that the government shall provide wage subsidies for micro-businesses. Revenues for wage subsidies can be generated by taxing the super-rich and the biggest corporations. Big companies and top billionaires have long benefited from workers’ productivity which earned them billions of profits,” the prelate said.

A wealth tax, for example, on 2,495 billionaires can contribute to P469 billion the government may use for a legislated wage hike, he added.

“Wage increase creates a strong economic multiplier effect. The additional income allows the workers and their families to buy more,” Alminaza added.

No increase, just ‘ayuda’

Meanwhile, Department of Labor and Employment secretary Bienvenido Laguesma said in a radio interview Friday that no wage increase is possible this year.

Wage increase petitions are being handled by the regional wage boards, he added.

There are about eight pending wage increases petitions filed before Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity Boards, including a P100 immediate wage increase petition filed by the Alyansa sa Mamumuong Kontraktwal sa Sugbo for Central Visayas laborers last Thursday.

The daily minimum wage in Region 7 is at P435.00 with a real purchasing power of around P375.00-P384.00, their petition said.

Laguesma said the Ferdinand Marcos Jr. government has allocated P1.8B as cash assistance to 300,000 workers across the country through the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged and other similar mechanisms.

Labor groups on the other have announced protest rallies nationwide on Labor Day, May 1, Monday.

The rally in Manila hopes to gather about 10,000 workers and allies in a rally by the All Philippine Trade Unions (APTU), an alliance of major labor groups including the Nagkaisa Labor Coalition, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines and Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino. #