It’s that time of the year again when labor and management tackle the ticklish wage issue. It’s a no-brainer why labor will always want a wage increase while management will always find ways to prevent one.
The Arroyo administration, after all, had trumpeted a 7.3 percent economic growth in the first quarter of 2010. Exports grew by more than 30 percent. Same with sales of cars and motorcycles. But in Dumaguete and Negros Oriental, all we’ve seen so far are the mushrooming of stores, restaurants and hotels, supporting the retail economy.
Well, yes, the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector has shown some growth, which, in turn, supports the services sector.
But where is the money for the workers in the Industry and Agriculture sectors, which in 2009 grew only by -2 and .1 percent respectively? It would be difficult to mandate a wage increase in these sectors, as to do so would be akin to squeezing blood from stone.
The task of improving the lot of the laborers is not a job of management alone. Government has to do its share in ensuring a better life for everyone — in the delivery of basic health care, education, infrastructure, disaster preparedness, and improved food production.
The government had promised five million jobs in 2010. That would be more than enough to employ the 2.8 million unemployed Filipinos as of January. But in April, the number of unemployed increased by 200,000, bringing the total number of unemployed people to three million. And we’re not even talking of the underemployed, which number 20 percent of the workforce.
So the pressure to produce more money for the family falls on the people who remain in the workforce. And, in turn, they ask their employers to increase their pay because times are getting harder. The demand for a pay increase could be up to P128 across-the-board.
What to do? Should management come to the rescue at the risk of sacrificing profitability?
Perhaps, government should be made to account for their broken promises before any wage hike is considered.