By ROMMEL BALAJADIA II
BAGUIO CITY — In an interview with Vicente Dilem, Kilusang Mayo Uno (May Day Movement) Cordillera Spokesperson said they are marking Labor day, on May 1, 2016, with the call for a nationwide, across-the-board increase of the minimum wage to P750. He said that the different regional minimum wages in the country are not enough to sustain the needs of the average family of five.
He referred to an Ibon research that places the family living wage at P1,089. The family living wage is based on the cost of basic goods, utilities, transportation, education and shelter, Dilem said.
A worker not earning enough would resort to seeking extra jobs, extended overtime, or borrowing to cope, he said.
Dilem said that for now a P750 minimum wage is just and though it is still less than P1,089. On top of that there still are employers who do not pay the minimum wage, he said.
Here in Cordillera alone, there are workers being paid as low as P150 for working more than the required eight hour work day, Dilem said. One particular case is that of Novo, where workers are paid less than the legislated minimum wage.
In an interview with Clarita Miranda, a former employee of Novo, she said that she and fellow employees were illegally dismissed from the company because they filed a complaint with the Department of Labor and Employment. Their complaint included underpayment of the minimum wage, unpaid overtime and benefits.
She said that most of the employees of Novo get paid an average of P200 for a twelve-hour workday. In some cases, they are even required to work more than twelve hours. She said that they have won the case against Novo but the company appealed the case with the NLRC.
Clarita Miranda and her husband now have two children. She said that the P200 that she received for her work was barely enough for her and they have to resort to austerity measures to manage their joint earnings with her husband. Sometimes we have to eat “bagoong”(fish sauce) with rice.
This is just one of many cases of illegal dismissal and underpayment of workers, said Mike Cabangon, Anakpawis Cordillera Spokesperson. The most recent report on complaints filed at the National Labor Relations Commission Cordillera shows that there have been 419 cases of illegal dismissal and money claims in 2014 and 620 cases in 2015.
He said that the lack of jobs and the huge amount of labor reserve in the Philippines is a root cause of low wages. The Philippines needs to industrialize in order to produce enough jobs for Filipinos, he said.
However, this cannot happen not unless genuine land reform is implemented in the country, Cabangon said. The prosperity of the Philippines can be measured by the state of the majority of Filipinos and seventy percent of whom are farmers, he said. Sadly, the President, Benigno Cojuanco-Aquino III, is a hacienda owner and a landlord and has no interest in implementing land reform, Cabangon said.
The Cojuanco-owned Hacienda Luisita was supposed to be distributed to farmers but it has been delayed under the Aquino presidency. That is why Aquino has a twisted idea of national industrialization, Cabangon said. # nordis.net