TUCP: Let’s end ‘guilt trip’ vs. labor

Raymond Democrito Mendoza
TUCP president and House Deputy Speaker
Raymond Democrito Mendoza TUCP president and House Deputy Speaker

THE Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) has called on the House of Representatives to immediately pass House Bill 7871, or the Wage Recovery Act of 2023, authored by TUCP president and House Deputy Speaker Raymond Democrito Mendoza.

The measure seeks to legislate an across-the-board wage increase of P150 in the daily wages of private sector workers nationwide.

“We laud the marching orders of Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez for the House committee on labor and employment to urgently and vigorously conduct public hearings as soon as possible to hear all sectors and deliberate on the much-needed increase in the take-home pay of our workers,” said Mendoza in a statement.

The TUCP claimed that since 1989, the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards (RTWPBs) have failed to keep pace with significant changes in the cost of living due to an “unsaid, unspoken de facto implicit policy of dampening legitimate wage demands by setting too late, too little, and highly unjust wages.”

The group blamed this on what it believes to be an “outmoded exploitative approach” of setting “cheap wages” as the key to bringing in investments. It said 21st century trade is increasingly worker-centered trade.

Tariff-free access to the United States and Europe places a premium on Filipino workers having decent work and that includes having a living wage, TUCP added.

Business concerns

The last legislated wage hike through Republic Act 6727 or the Wage Rationalization Act, which established the regional wage boards, was P25 on top of the then P64 minimum wage; whereas the highest latest minimum wage hike given by the regional wage boards as of 2024 was only P50.

The TUCP said after nearly 35 years without a legislated wage hike, Congress should act now to address worker survival needs to reverse this “cheap labor” policy.

“As Filipino workers struggle with already low wages eroded by inflation and various headwinds, the legislated wage hike is no longer a social or economic imperative but a moral and existential imperative, especially for our millions of mostly poor wage earners. Their honest hard work receives only poverty wages that cannot even sustain the health, productivity, and need for a decent life of their families,” said Mendoza.

Even with the latest wage hikes, all regional minimum wages are below the government-set poverty threshold by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) and no way near the family living wage estimated by the think tank Ibon Foundation, according to the TUCP.

“No wonder Filipino learners are failing in the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) rankings and no wonder one in every three of our children below five years old are stunted. We are raising a next generation of endo workers who will never be competitive globally or even in Asean,” Mendoza said.

“Our workforce and economy will remain ‘gatherers of woods’ and ‘carriers of water’; forever assembling goods but never manufacturing; and doomed to be an economy of low-end gig and temporary work,” TUCP vice president Luis Corral said.

Addressing the concerns of businesses, House Bill 7871 provides for wage subsidies to micro and small enterprises, ensuring their viability and full compliance with this wage legislation.

Coral said the swift opposition from employers to the pending proposed legislated wage increase does not shock them anymore.

“They are expert scare-mongers misleading the people with their myths and fallacies against any wage increase. They perennially demonize any and all legitimate wage demands of Filipino workers,” said Corral.

“Let’s end the blame game that workers’ wages will increase inflation and discourage investments because the real culprits are astronomically expensive yet unreliable electricity and soaring food prices, and not the poverty wages further eroded by the rising cost of living,” Corral added.

Corral called for an end to “the guilt trip thrown to labor for demanding a wage raise that supposedly benefits only formal workers and not the larger informal economy” because increases in formal workers’ wages, he said, translate into increased consumer demand for goods and services produced by the informal economy and MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises), hence raising the income of informal workers.”


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