Malacañan Palace
1 May 2012

As the nation marks Labor Day, President Benigno S. Aquino III convened with different labor union leaders and members of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) to yield a meaningful exchange of information and views on pressing issues in the labor industry.

Federation of Free Workers National President Atty. Jose Matula appealed to the government and spoke on the worsening issue of contractualization of employees, which resulted to deprivation of security of tenure and protection of employees’ rights to regularization. He also mentioned the rising cost of electricity and fuel and the lack of farm-to-market roads in various areas in the country. Atty. Matula asked the President to defend the right of employees to establish unions, ratify the International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention No. 189 for Domestic Workers, and approve the Magna Carta on Domestic Workers.

In reply, the President said that his government is implementing the Department of Labor and Employment Order 18-A. “Ipinagbabawal po nito ang abusadong pagre-renew ng kontrata kada limang buwan, para lamang makatipid ang mga kompanya sa pagpapasahod sa mga manggagawa,” he stated.

On the intensifying price hike of electricity, he said that the administration is looking for the possibility of “open access” to the EPIRA law. An open access to transmission and distribution of network and facilities, which will promote competition among suppliers, will therefore benefit consumers.

President Aquino frankly told the union leaders that he is not for the P125 minimum wage increase because it will result to laying-off of employees or price hike in products and services.  The total amount of increase will reach up to P1.43 trillion in a year. The Philippine economy’s total money in circulation is P8 trillion. He said that he is instead, waiting for the result of the consultations of the Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity Boards with unions to provide a new and considerable wage order as soon as possible.

The Chief Executive said that the country should resort to a long-term solution and invest in education. He reported the release of P1.1 billion pesos for the Training for Work Scholarship Program of TESDA and the Educational Assistance Fund for SSS and GSIS members of P11. 2 billion.

He expressed his desire to continue an open communication and talks with the labor groups. “Ang hangarin ko po, magpatuloy pa sana ang ating pag-uugnayan, kung saan nananaig ang katuwiran at pagdadamayan.”

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