“We have legitimate criticisms of the president and there will be no ceasefire in airing these this Christmas.”
This was labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno’s reaction today to Pres. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s Christmas wish that people will stop “criticizing anything and everything,” saying this is an appeal to stop criticizing his government and that the president has not shown “generosity” nor “care” for workers and poor people.
The president made the statement in YouTube’s World View series, in which he was the first Asian interviewee.
“How can we stop criticizing the president this Christmas when workers and poor people are feeling the brunt of his refusal to grant a significant wage hike and his all-out endorsement of contractualization,” asked Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.
“Pres. Aquino has the nerve to appeal for generosity and care from Filipinos yet his government has not shown these to workers. What we have been seeing is the president acting like a Santa Claus to big capitalists,” he added.
“The meager Cost of Living Allowance which he granted in various regions has not helped workers cope with the rising prices of basic goods and services. His support for contractualization in the Philippine Airlines will further spread this bane to workers and poor people,” he said.
Responding to protests for a significant wage hike, the government granted a P22 Cost of Living Allowance in the National Capital Region and lower amounts in other regions starting last May.
“It’s gonna be another ‘Paskong tuyo (dry Christmas)’ for majority of Filipinos. The prices of petroleum products, toll fees, and electricity rates have all gone up this year, thereby increasing the prices of basic goods and services,” he added.
“In the first place, the meager COLAs granted by the president is a far cry from the significant wage hike that workers have been calling for. These have also been eaten up by the skyrocketing prices,” Labog said.
KMU has been pushing for the legislation of House Bill 375, or the P125 Wage Hike Bill, which seeks to legislate a P125 across-the-board wage hike throughout the country.
It cited an April research by independent think-tank Ibon Foundation saying that the P404 minimum wage in the NCR is only 2/5 of the P988 needed by an average Filipino family every day to live decently.
The research also showed that in 2001, the minimum wage is ½ of the amount needed daily by an average Filipino family to live decently.
“We continue to be outraged by the Aquino government’s full support for contractualization. Majority of Filipino workers now are employed under that scheme, in which they receive low wages and no benefits and can be fired any time,” Labog said. Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU Chairperson