Sin tax law causes loss of jobs, cuts workers benefits – says labor faction urging its repeal

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By Joey Natividad

CITY OF NAGA, Bicol Region, 15Jan2014 (BicolToday.com) – A faction in the militant labor sector felt the squeeze caused by the Sin Tax law as its members in the tobacco and sin industries have suffered in dwindling benefits, lessen man-hours work load,and job cuts.

The Bukluran ng Manggagawa ng Pilipinas (BMP) in Manila informed Bicol Today.com yesterday that the Sin Tax law has caused loss of jobs among workers in the “sin industry.” About several thousands workers are employed in the sin industry which was the target by the government in imposing new taxes, hoping to raise more revenues.

BMP spokesperson Gie Relova narrated: “Crippled by the reduction of work days since the beginning of New Year, furious workers of a major tobacco company based in Marikina City trooped to the gates of the Batasan Pambansa, and urged legislators to immediately file a bill that will repeal Republic Act No. 10351 or the Sin Tax Reform Law of 2012. Repealing the law they claim will correct the “institutional injustice” inflicted by the Aquino government against their ranks.”

According to BMP, “only at its second year of implementation, the latest tax scheme has raked the government an additional P41.1 billion in fresh revenues. Total revenues excise tax collections between January-November 2013 reached P91.6 billion, higher by 6.7 percent against the full year target of 2013 which is P85.86 billion as reported by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).”

Contrary to claims made by legislators led by Senator Franklin Drilon and chief sin tax promoter, Secretary Cesar Purisima of the Department of Finance that the increased excise tax collections will not lead to job losses, employees of Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corporation (PMFTC) led by their labor union president Rodelito Atienza and supporters assailed the Sin tax law and its authors.

“The legislators lied through their teeth during the deliberations of the tax measure. Workers’ families are now saddled with budgetary constraints because the sin tax law deprived us of a decent and productive employment for the next five months because of their lies,” Atienza informed Bicol Today.com.

“We challenge the 210 congressmen and 10 senators to explain to us, why are we demonstrating in Batasan when we should have been productive in our work stations right now? Bring with them their graphs and charts, their economic advisers from prestigious schools here and abroad and prove to us that job losses are avoidable under a burdensome Sin tax law,” said Atienza.

Atienza called the tax measure fundamentally unjust law for its pass-on character and has already placed their jobs in grave peril as their company recently implemented a five month deduction of work days due to its declining, yet still significant market share.

The labor union said the PMFTC management greeted the New Year with a plant shutdown for three straight days, and has forced its employees to use their sick and vacation leaves from the 6th of January up to the 10th of February and work day deductions from thereon till the last day of May.

“All we did was toil as hard as possible, and yet we are helplessly forced into predicament not of our choice. The government is satisfied with its taxes and the corporations have their profits, but why are we the ones to suffer,” he added.

“When the industry was booming, we were the first to benefit, and now because of the sin tax law, our families are the first to tighten our belts. The only “lamb” in this scenario are the workers who diligently work, day-in and day-out, to “feed” the government its taxes and the companies’ its profits,” Atienza protested.

For its part, BMP slammed the Aquino administration for being indifferent and unmoved to the workers’ plight, and pompously pats each others’ back for a “job well done” at the workers’ expense.

“The Aquino government and the alcohol and tobacco companies can be perceived as monkeys scratching one another, as Aquino and his finance officials bask in tax revenues and industrialists maximizing the government’s cheap labor policy, both have successfully squeezed more profits from the value created by cigarette workers in only a single year of imposition, explained BMP leader Gie Relova.

“Such indifference, public disservice and the merciless implementation of anti-people policies are the perfect ingredients that shall bolster Noynoy Aquino’s inevitable detachment from the workers and other impoverished sectors, he added.

The militant labor group called on workers and their families in the various companies in the sin industry to organize themselves and build a powerful movement that shall effectively convince legislators to repeal the dreaded Sin tax Law. [BicolToday.com]

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