Keep politics out of wage-fixing
The workers’ party-list group Partido ng Manggagawa is pushing a House bill seeking to increase wages across-the-board by P150 daily. We understand Partido ng Manggagawa’s advocacy. After all, as its name implies, it is devoted to furthering the workers’ interest.
What we can’t understand is the recent pronouncement by House majority leader Prospero Nograles that congressmen are giving priority to approval of the pay hike bill, which sets an increase of "between P50 and P80," as sessions wind down in the next two weeks.
The Senate might just approve their own version with alacrity if only to put in the spot President Arroyo who would be faced with the unpalatable task of vetoing the measure, assuming, of course, that she would not succumb to populism.
Let’s hear it from the employers.
Rene Sarmiento, president of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines, said a uniform
legislated wage increase is "anti-development" because "it fails to take into account prevailing economic conditions and other peculiarities in each region as well as other critical indicators like employment level, inflation rate, and productivity among others."
"It will be harmful to the economy especially if the industry to be burdened by a wage increase has the potential capacity of generating revenues for government, creating jobs and providing income for the labor force," he said.
He warned that congressional intervention would be a "double whammy" for businesses in as much as a legislated wage hike would be on top of increases to be granted by the various wage boards and pay adjustment obtained through collective bargaining.
"It will be very destructive on an already fragile economy badly in need of investments and boosting consumers’ confidence," Soriano said.
He said the wage increase would kill thousands of micro establishments and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
He said this will "run counter to the flagship program of the Arroyo administration to promote and strengthen the micro enterprises and SMEs as key generators of employment and economic dynamism."
Leaving aside the hyperbole, Sarmiento is right. Raising wages now will throw workers out of jobs and discourage investments.
But our concern is more with the politicalization of wage-fixing. There are wage boards already created by law to do this job. Let’s keep the pols out of the process. They have this habit of freely spending money they don’t own.