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‘Share the wealth created by labor’

05:04 AM June 06, 2018

The continuous rise in prices (“Inflation hits fresh over 5-year-high of 4.6% in May,” 6/5/18) is the basis for the clamor of labor groups for a national minimum wage of P750 to P800 a day.

In response, employers are raising disaster and doomsday scenarios of closures, layoffs and inflation. Behind the employers’ panic mode is their opposition to any sharing of the wealth that has been created by labor in more than a decade of robust economic growth.

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Even as inflation has undeniably eroded workers’ nominal wages, inequality is worsening below the radar due to the stagnation of real wages, while productivity has boomed. From 2001 to 2016, labor productivity grew by at least 50 percent, yet real wages did not grow at all.

This is not a figment of workers’ imagination but a study by Finance Undersecretary Karl Chua as cited by Mahar Mangahas (“Stagnation of real wages,” 3/3/18).

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Workers have been denied their so-called “fair share in the fruits of production.” Workers, as well as the economy, will benefit more if government will exercise its police power to compel employers to share the wealth produced by the blood and sweat of laborers.

Employers profit from workers. They utilize the labor power of the latter to produce goods and services sold to the market. But employers pay workers less in terms of wages and benefits than the amount they have produced in the production of goods and services.

The difference between the amount paid to the workers and the amount they have produced and sold to the market is called profit, and is wholly owned by the employer. This is how wealth in society is generated and how the wage system works from which employers profit.

The 1987 Constitution guarantees workers their just share in the fruits of their labor. But the prevailing wage regionalization system under Republic Act No. 6727, or the Wage Rationalization Act, and the behavior of employers who seek more profit than provide what is due to their workers, make the condition worse.

The widening gap between workers’ wages and the rising cost of living, and the prevalence of poverty in society, are evidences of this unjust system of wage-
setting and wealth distribution.

We reiterate our call to President Duterte to certify as urgent House Bill No. 7787, which aims to abolish the regional wage boards, provide a national minimum wage of P750 to all workers, and impose penalties on abusive employers.

We also call on Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to stand for and in behalf of workers’ welfare by not speaking as if he were the trade secretary.

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Rene Magtubo, chairperson, Partido Manggagawa

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TAGS: DOLE, Inquirer letters, labor, national minimum wage hike, Rene Magtubo, Silvestre Bello III, wealth
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