News : BPO Employees Protest MRT, LRT Fare Hike
Manila, Jan 7, 2015 -- A group of business process outsourcing (BPO) employees expressed opposition to the fare increase of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT) systems, saying it will negate gains from the tax exemption of de minimis benefits.
The Inter-Call Center Association of Workers (ICCAW) said employees who are regular MRT and LRT train riders will bear the brunt of the higher fares.
"The new tax exemption on de minimis is welcome news to millions of low-waged workers. But the impending MRT rate hike is definitely a spoiler," ICCAW-NCR spokesman Bryan Nadua said in a statement.
Nadua also criticized government for quickly acting on fare increases, and not on measures that will benefit workers.
"The government is fast in imposing burdens on the workers but slow to act on benefits for the employees," he said.
The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has released the rules on the additional exemption of up to P10,000 for workers who receive extra benefits coming from collective bargaining agreements and productivity schemes.
Nadua said, however, the amount of tax exemption is almost equivalent to the fare hike imposed by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) on train riders.
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ICCAW said that the two-way adjusted rate of P28 per day in the MRT is equivalent to more or less P10,000 in one year, which means the fare hike is cancelling out the benefits of the new tax exemption.
ICCAW, which was first organized in Cebu City in 2012, urges government to implement industry-wide standards for wages, benefits, and entitlements.
The group said these standards should be well above the minimum mandated by law and commensurate to the profitable dollar-earning nature of the BPO industry.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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