What better way to honor Filipino workers than to give them the wage and benefits they deserve, reelectionist Senator Risa Hontiveros said on Labor Day.
“Ngayong Labor Day, maging hudyat sana ito ng pagkilos ng mga ahensya ng gobyerno para unahin ang kapakanan ng mga manggagawa. Dahil ang tunay na pagkilala sa kanila ay pagbibigay ng makataong sweldo at tamang benepisyo para sa kanilang serbisyo (May this Labor Day be the start for agencies of the government to prioritize the workers. Because the real recognition that can be given to them is by providing them humane wage and right benefits for their service),” Hontiveros said in a statement on Sunday, May 1.
Hontiveros stressed this as she called for the prompt review of petitions to raise regional minimum wage rates for Filipino workers.
“What’s taking so long? Ano mang delay sa paglalabas ng desisyon ukol sa minimum wage ay pwedeng magdulot ng kagutuman o kawalan ng pag-asa sa mga manggagawa na makaahon pa sila sa patong-patong na bayarin (The delay on releasing a decision on minimum wage can cause hunger and hopelessness to to ease their burdens from bills among workers),” Hontiveros said.
The senator, who is seeking another Senate seat under presidential candidate Vice President Leni Robredo's ticket, stressed that the "extraordinary rise" in the cost of living in the past three years has pushed incomes of minimum wage earners to below the regional poverty lines.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) announced in March that it is set to review the minimum wage amid the surging fuel prices. At present, the minimum wage in Metro Manila is at P537 and much lower in the rest of the regions.
Hontiveros said that the take home pay of minimum wage earners has been overtaken by the fast-rising cost of food, transportation and public utilities over the past three years.
“Tatlong taon nang walang adjustment sa (It's been three years of no adjustment on) regional minimum wages. Tumaas na ang gastos sa kuryente, pamasahe, pagkain at kinailangan pang gastusan ang internet. Oras na para tingnan at pag-aralan dahil hindi na sasapat ito sa gastusin ng mga pamilyang Pilipino (Electric rates have been increasing, as well as transportation fees, food, and expenses on internet. It's time to look into this because this is no longer enough for Filipino families),” she said.
Hontiveros also urged DOLE to take its enforcement of minimum wage mandates more seriously, since even official statistics before the pandemic would show that 1 in 4 wage workers were receiving wages that were below the regional minimums.
Hontiveros further said that it is not too late for the employers and the agencies involved to act on the matter. "Better late than never," she said.
She is hoping that the new Malacanang appointments among business representatives in the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards will be released soon to expedite the review and to immediately come up with and release a decision.
Reelectionist Senator Leila de Lima, on the other hand, honored Filipino workers and vowed to advance labor agendas that would improve the quality of life of workers.
"Isa po kayo sa pinaka-hinagupit ng pandemya. Lalong pinabigat ang mabibigat na ninyong pasanin. Subalit tulad ng iba pang mga pagsubok, hindi kayo sumusuko para sa pamilya (You are among the heavily-hit by the pandemic. Your burdens further worsen. But like all other challenges, you did not back down for your families)," De Lima said in a statement.
"Saludo po ako sa inyong sipag at tatag. Asahan nyo pong kasama ninyo ako sa pagsusulong ng inyong karapatan at kapakanan: Seguridad sa trabaho, sapat na sahod at benepisyo, at ligtas na kondisyon ng paggawa (I salute you for your hardwork and perseverance. You can expect that I will push for your rights and welfare: job security, enough pay and benefits, and safe working conditions)," the detained senator, who is also running under Robredo's slate, said.