Chauvinism on the wage issue-A A +A
Thursday, September 26, 2013
“EVEN people without job can still live”, thus Labor regional director Ponciano Ligutom retorted when Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) workers’ representative Wennie Sancho confronted him over his pronouncement last week that “should there’ll be any wage adjustment here in Western Visayas, it could be no more than the increase set in Metro Manila which is 10 pesos”. Sancho calls Ligutom’s statement as preemptive and preposterous.
Organized labor groups, for their part, consider the pronouncement as silly. Ligutom’s act, they said, is one that shows disrespect to the Wage Board’s institutional process of wage determination, more so with the basic rules the Board has agreed before it conducts public hearings on the wage increase petition. Sancho opines that Ligutom as the chairman of the wage body must be impartial at least at this time pending public hearing and deliberation on the wage petition.
I fully agree with the workers sector that the action of Ligutom is inappropriate, premature and even outrageous.
But, let’s take a look at the statement itself. He said that “even those that have no work can still live” reflects the kind of thinking Ligutom has. This remark shows off his anti-worker and anti-poor chauvinism.
He meant, it’s no use petitioning for wage increase since everybody could be able to live even they have no work at all. It suggests that a wage hike is unnecessary, that the petition is gratuitous. He believes that a paltry centavo increase to the region’s wage scale is just enough.
This isn’t just a statement coming from an ordinary person in the street. It comes from a supposed responsible government official who is thought to be the keeper of the workers’ welfare. He is a DOLE official whose office exists with a mission to protect labor.
Claiming to have a heart for the workers on the day when he set foot in region 6 as the director of DOLE, this official often tagged himself sympathetic to labor in every occasion he gets the chance to speak before the public. He is fond for impressing the audience that he cares for the plight of the lowly workers.
Now, he is revealing himself. Actually he isn’t. He is being unmasked!
Lately, he is condemned by labor groups and the media, accusing him as anti-labor and anti-employees for his disregard and neglect of their issues, or even worse, charged him as inutile in the face of labor unrest happening in the region. He was pilloried and called for his relief as DOLE regional director because he cannot explain why labor cases cannot be acted despite their cries for labor justice at his disposal.
The DOLE office was recently rocked with a series of pickets and rallies, and the building façade was showered with rotten eggs, and cans of red paints due to his neglect of the workers’ concern.
Labor groups in Negros Occidental are now restive over his neglect of their issues, while he is preoccupied of tormenting DOLE employees with dehumanizing workloads, unpaid overtime work, and unjust transfer of personnel, or threatening them to be assigned to far flung provinces for those he considers “disobedient,” and hostile to him.
The present wage issue is an opportunity to really know Ligutom’s chauvinism. On September 30, the day set for the public hearing or consultation on the wage increase petition, workers in Negros aren’t expecting much of what could be the outcome of the hearing. They are eager to see how the Ligutom-inspired “lower-than-10pesos” wage adjustment prevails in the RTWPB.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on September 26, 2013.