Workers, other sectors vow to intensify calls for substantial wage hike

AMIDST rising prices of basic commodities and petroleum products, and in the face of impending fare hikes in the MRT and LRT, newly-formed group Koalisyon ng Progresibong Manggagawa at Mamamayan vowed Tuesday to intensify calls for a substantial wage increase for workers and employees both in the private and public sectors.

The group spearheaded “Bayan Naming Mahal,” a post-Valentine’s Day Metro-wide protest calling on the Aquino government to implement a substantial wage hike. The title of the protest plays on the two meanings of the word “mahal” – which means both “beloved” and “costly” in the vernacular.

KPMM held short programs in the Baclaran, Recto and Monumento stations of the LRT, in the MRT Cubao station, in the corner of Agham Road and Quezon Avenue, among other places in Metro Manila. It asked passersby to sign its petition for a substantial wage hike and distributed leaflets carrying the call.

The protest also comes one day before a committee hearing in the House of Representatives for House Bill 375, filed by Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano, which seeks to legislate a P125 across-the-board wage increase nationwide.

“Dahil mahal natin ang mga kapwa-manggagawa at kababayan natin, lalabanan natin ang pagmahal ng mga bilihin at presyo ng langis. Dahil mahal natin ang mga kamanggagawa at kababayan natin, igigiit natin ang makabuluhang dagdag-sahod (Because we love our fellow workers and Filipinos, we will fight the skyrocketing prices of basic goods and petroleum products. Because we love our fellow workers and Filipinos, we will fight for a substantial wage hike),” said Elmer Labog, chairperson of the Kilusang Mayo Uno and KPMM co-convenor.

“Any man or woman on the street will tell the Aquino government what it is refusing to hear and heed: that the unabated price hikes and the impending fare hikes in the MRT and LRT make a substantial wage hike all the more necessary. Our protest today is just an initial step in harnessing the Filipino workers’ and people’s clamor for a significant wage increase,” he said.

“We take offense at this government’s announcement that there will be no wage increase until June this year because of the insultingly meager wage increase that was approved in June last year. Even the law recognizes that countervailing events are sufficient basis for increasing wages even before the one-year interval for wage hikes is through,” Labog said.

“The recent wave of increases in the prices of basic commodities and petroleum products is reason enough for this government to grant the long-delayed substantial wage hike that the Filipino workers and people need. We cannot wait for June and we will intensify our protests for wage hike now,” Labog said.

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