By GERRY LEE GORIT, Reporter
IN spite of the promise of the Duterte administration, lower wages and job insecurity have remained the concerns of the millions of workers throughout the country as labor groups and other militant sector had staged protest action during the Labor Day observance on Monday.
In the region as elsewhere, the workers are suffering because of the neglect of the government and the implementation of anti-workers policies while promoting the interests of the capitalists over the wage earners, said Wildon Barros, secretary-general of the labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) in Northern Mindanao.
Among the concerns the workers in the regions have to bear, Barros said, are the low salaries and contractualization amid the skyrocketing inflation.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Northern Mindanao has about 1.394 million workers, 40 percent of which are employed in the agriculture sector.
For instance, most of the employees in the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, he said, are receiving only the current daily wage of P318 per day and KMU-NMR said this is not sufficient to provide for a family of five persons.
“That [P318] is not enough considering that study showed that a family of five here needs at least P1,119 daily to live comfortably,” Barros said.
Meanwhile, Nicandro Borja, regional vice president of the Associated Labor Union-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP), said they are seeking an additional P168 pesos across-the-board salary increase.
For its part, the KMU is pushing for the P750 national per-day minimum wage.
“With the increase in price of basic commodities, fare, education and other expenses, the P318 minimum wage is not enough for a family’s daily needs,” Borja said.
Borja said that if the proposed increase is approved, the minimum daily wage would be P486, which is still within the poverty line.
He said the expenses in Manila and other major cities in the country are the same as in Cagayan de Oro.
“There is no difference with the expenses and employers are saying that businesses will suffer and may shut down, but in reality, it is not, because the public will have more money to spend which will mean an increase in business,” Barros said.
The KMU has also lambasted the Duterte government for not fulfilling on its promise, especially on the end of contractualization, which until now has been practiced by most business establishments.
“Under the government of Duterte, contractualization is still prevalent, workers are still crucified to a cross of low wage, while poverty is spreading,” Barros said.
He said President Duterte failed in his campaign promise in liberating the work force of the country from the chains of contractual employment.
To date, 24.4 million workers or 63 percent of the country’s workforce have remained contractual.
Barrosa said the labor department, through its Department Order 174, has perpetuated contract-based jobs, circumventing labor laws.
“Workers should unite and empower themselves to fight for just compensation and protect their rights as workers,” he added.
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