HON. RAYMOND DEMOCRITO C. MENDOZA April 23, 2010
Trade Union Congress Party-List (TUCP)
TUCP-PGEA Compound, Maharlika cor. Masaya Streets, Diliman, Quezon City
Tel/Fax: (632) 351-3757/924-7551
TUCP hit ECOP over wage hike
The Trade Union Congress Party (TUCP) reiterates its call for approval of a P75 across-the-board wage hike in NCR pending before the regional tripartite wages and productivity board despite opposition from the employers’ sector. The Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) said that “a P75 across-the-board increase in Metro Manila will hamper the job creation process and will only help a small fraction of the population- 16% or those who are fully employed”. ECOP explained that wage increase will work to the detriment of 84% who are unemployed because “instead of hiring more workers, companies will merely be forced to increase the wages of current employees.”
TUCP scoffs at what it calls ECOP’s “intellectual duplicity” and its attempts at “divide and rule” by setting workers against those currently out of work.
“First, it is the legitimate right of employed workers to demand for a wage increase just to protect their wage’s eroding purchasing power in the face of increasing prices of basic commodities, electricity, water, transportation, education and services” said TUCP Party-List Rep. Raymond Democrito C. Mendoza.
“Second, most Filipino workers have no collective bargaining agreements, and the only way that their wages can be increased is through the grant of TUCP’s petition” added Mendoza.
“Third, ECOP does not speak for the employed or unemployed. ECOP does not speak for labor. ECOP speaks for itself: motivated by the desire to protect their profit margins. ECOP just doesn’t get it. In fact, because of the poor safety net program, the absence of universal healthcare and our close-knit families, more often than not, our employed workers end up as the social safety net for their unemployed brothers and sisters” Mendoza stressed.
“TUCP’s demand for P75 increase is not unreasonable. Employed workers deserve to get their fair share from the fruits of their labor. It is about simple fairness: a wage hike two years after the last one was given when the NEDA and DOF are all saying that our industries emerged from the recent recession unscathed and profitable and that our economic fundamentals have remained strong” explained Mendoza.
The TUCP answered that the key to addressing high unemployment is not to freeze current wages as ECOP believes. The Philippines has been under “low wage regime” for the last several decades but still high unemployment remains a challenge.
“The argument of ECOP is to make labor its perennial whipping boy. Even if the current low wage level is retained, there is no guarantee that more workers will be hired and unemployment will somehow decline. There are other factors including the need to bring down the price of electricity, the need to improve our infrastracture, the need for peace and order, and the goal of cutting down on bureacracy and outright graft and corruption” Mendoza stressed.
Mendoza also added that the real solutions to high unemployment are: “(1) To attract more investments (foreign and local) and build more businesses in the country to absorb the millions of unemployed workers; and (2) To align the demands of industry with the supply of skills and competencies.”
TUCP laments the fact that unlike Thailand and Malaysia for instance, the Philippines was not able to attract sizable foreign direct investments (FDI) to create more factories and jobs in the country. What we have had in the past was “hot” money entering and leaving the country through our porous stock market at will based on pure speculation. Even if the wages are not increased, high unemployment will remain because of the “low absorbtion” capacity of the economy. The solution is to get more capital, particularly FDI and to ensure that it cannot be repatriated out of the country for at least a year so that it is translated into the establishment of real factories and creating decent jobs. Freezing salaries will only ensure that workers will end up subsidizing the profit margins of business.
Also, TUCP cited the BPO sector, particularly call center industry as a case in point. The problem of the call center industry is not “wage demands” but the quality of their applicants. The BPO sector does not say that if wages are increased, they will freeze their hiring. In fact, call center companies are willing “to pay more” just to get the right people for their operations. This is a function of education and training.
TUCP affirms that the right policy is to provide more training and re-training programs for unemployed workers so that they will have a better chance of landing a good, even “higher-paying job” as in the case of the BPO sector.
“A wage freeze is not and cannot be the solution to high unemployment. And high unemployment should not be used as an artificial excuse for not granting wage increase. Unemployment is just being used as a lame alibi of ECOP because they just don’t want to give a little more for their workers” Mendoza finally said.
TUCP is bent to push for a wage hike because it understands the increasing financial hardships of workers. In fact, when workers do get an increase, they can afford to buy more goods and services which will in turn benefit the business sector. TUCP is just fighting for simple decency and fairness.