Three days after the Labor department announced a P30 Cost of Living Allowance for workers in Metro Manila, workers led by labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno stormed the office of the Metro Manila wage board to condemn the measly wage hike and call for the abolition of the country's wage boards.
Showing their anger and indignation over the announcement, which includes the integration of the existing P22 COLA into workers' basic pay, the workers "sticker-bombed" the wage board's office, posting many stickers containing their calls into the office's walls.
"Workers are angry. We have been calling for a significant wage hike and we are being given loose change in installments," said Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general.
He was referring to the fact that P20 of the P30 COLA will be granted immediately while the remaining P10 will be granted after six months.
"This is another proof that the country's wage boards cannot grant a significant wage hike and should be abolished. They are instruments of big capitalists and the government for pressing down wages," he added.
Slow pace of wage increases
KMU cited a research by independent think-tank Ibon Foundation that shows that the increase in the real value of workers' wages in the country has slowed down since the regional wage boards were created in 1989.
It also cited an Asian Development Bank study that was published in the Aug. 2011 issue of The Economist which shows that in Southeast Asia for the period 2000-2010, (1) the Philippines has the slowest pace of wage increase and (2) it has the biggest discrepancy between increases in workers' productivity and increases in wages.
"The regional wage boards have been crucial in the implementation of the government's policy of attracting foreign investors by offering cheap and repressed labor. Their anti-worker composition is consistent with the anti-worker policies that they are implementing," Soluta said.
"Members of the regional wage boards are not known to workers and are not accountable to workers. The wage boards should be abolished and the anti-worker policies that they uphold junked," he added.
A regional wage board is composed of the Department of Labor and Employment Regional Director, Regional Directors of the National Economic Development Authority and Department of Trade and Industry, and two representatives each from the worker and employer sectors who are appointed by the President for a term of five years.