Labor groups unite in pushing for higher wages, inclusivity

Labor groups unite in pushing for higher wages, inclusivity

By Jomel R. Paguian

SEVERAL labor groups converged in Quezon City on Monday to champion critical issues of workers, among them a living wage increase and the establishment of inclusive and harassment-free workplaces ahead of the celebration of Bonifacio Day on Nov. 30.

In a press briefing, multiple labor groups led by the Confederation for Unity, Recognition, and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) opposed the P70-billion budget cut in the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund (MPBF).

The MPBF is a standby fund for the increase in salaries and benefits of government employees, which the groups said will reduce the chances for government workers to have any salary increase next year.

“The minimum wage for government workers is far behind from a justified living wage,” Party-list Representative and COURAGE former president Ferdinand R. Gaite, said in Filipino.

He explained that current minimum monthly wage of P13,000 for government employees in entry-level positions is significantly lesser than their demanded P33,000 monthly living wage.

The demanded P33,000 monthly wage is based on studies that showed a family of five members needs to earn P1,100 per day to have a justified living wage, explained COURAGE President Santiago Y. Dasmariñas, Jr.

He added that a salary increase is still unclear, following the budget cut from P94 billion to only P24 billion under the MPBF.

“There is no law mandating a salary increase for next year despite the inflation. If there is no approved law, there is also no expected salary increase for government employees,” said Mr. Dasmariñas.

In a separate media forum, the Philippine affiliates of global labor groups Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK), National Public Workers’ Congress (PUBLIK), and Women Workers United (WWU) called for the ratification of International Labor Organization Convention No. 190 (ILO C-190), a treaty ending all forms of violence and harassment in workplaces.

This is the most comprehensive international treaty that clarifies and expands the definition and forms of violence and harassment in workplaces, said PSLINK general secretary Annie Enriquez Geron, highlighting that the ratification of the convention may likely strengthen regulations against workplace harassment.

The labor groups said ILO-C190 if ratified, would help in the legislation and implementation of SOGIESC (sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and sex characteristics) Equality Bill.

“If this (ILO-C190) would be ratified, it will help in the campaign of legislating SOGIESC Bill because you would not be able to eliminate violence and harassment in the workplace if you leave out a certain population of people with diverse SOGIESC,” said Ms. Geron.