Labor groups ask SC’s help to standardize wages in PHL regardless of location

Sunday, March 6th, 2016. Filed under: Philippine News
A father and his son paddle a makeshift boat made out of "styrofoam" and bamboo while carrying buckets of fishes they received from local fishermen, which they plan on selling at a wet market in Navotas, Tuesday. Several candidates commit to address poverty as part of their election agenda.(MNS photo)

A father and his son paddle a makeshift boat made out of “styrofoam” and bamboo while carrying buckets of fishes they received from local fishermen, which they plan on selling at a wet market in Navotas, Tuesday. Several candidates commit to address poverty as part of their election agenda.(MNS photo)

MANILA  (Mabuhay) – The Supreme Court on Thursday has been asked to order the standardization of a national minimum wage all over the Philippines.

In a 28-page plea, the petitioners that included several labor groups and former Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello asked the high court to nullify, abolish, repeal and strike down as unconstitutional Republic Act 6727 or the Wage Rationalization Act of 1989. The said law sets different take home pays for laborers in different provinces even if they have the same jobs.

The petitioners said RA 6727 is contrary to the provisions on living wages and income under the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

They said the criteria used to determine the minimum wages, as defined by RA 6727, are “patently erroneous, biased, and ultimately, unconstitutional.

“RA 6727 has failed to keep its promise of providing a meaningful living wage over its 26-year reign as a piece of wage legislation in the Philippines, in direct contravention of the 1987 Constitution,” read the plea.

The petitioners also said the law violated the equal protection of the law principle and the “equal pay for equal work” doctrine, which states that “persons who work with substantially equal qualification, skill, effort and responsibility, under similar conditions should be paid similar salaries.”

The petitioners stressed that the cost of basic services and commodities in Metro Manila and in the provinces are either equal, or even higher in the latter.

The petitioners said there is no cogent reason to discriminate against agricultural workers as against non-agricultural ones. “All workers, regardless of  whether they are agricultural and non-agricultural deserve equal treatment under the eyes of the law,” the petition read.

The petitioners said the National Wage and Productivity Board and the Regional Wage Boards (RWB) should be stopped from issuing different wage orders for the 17 wage districts in the country.

Likewise, the petitioners wanted the abolition of the offices of the 17 RWB in the Philippines.

Joining Bello in the petition are the Ugnayan ng Maralita Laban sa Kahirapan party-list, National Federation of Labor, Solidarity of Independent and General Labor Organizations, Froilan Caratihan, Rusty dela Cruz, Emmanuel Flores Cavanas, and Sheila Baylosis.

Named respondents were the Department of Labor and Employment, its secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, the National Wage and Productivity Commision, and its executive director Maria Criselda Sy.

To illustrate, the petitioner cited the case of construction workers in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, who supposedly get paid 50 percent less than construction workers in Metro Manila.

Petitioner Caratihan based in Manila said he was receiving the minimum wage of P466 a day, while Dela Cruz, another petitioner who is from San Pedro, Laguna, gets P337 a day despite the workplaces of the two being separated only by a small bridge.(MNS)

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