Crowds are seen in the public market in Marikina City, March 1. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS
By Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza, Reporter
THE PHILIPPINES’ largest group of labor federations on Monday filed a petition seeking for a P470 increase in the daily minimum wage of workers in the capital region, bringing it to P1,007.
The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) cited hunger, malnutrition, and the rising costs of fuel products and other basic commodities as reasons in its petition filed before the National Capital Region (NCR) Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board.
“(TUCP) respectfully prays for the granting of P470.00 daily wage increases for all private sector workers in the NCR to be given across-the-board since all need healthy food and are subject to the same changes in the prices of goods and services,” it said in its petition.
The labor organization said its proposal must be considered by the government since no wage hike has been implemented since the P25 increase in basic pay granted in November 2018.
The TUCP cited the soaring prices of fuel and its impact on basic goods. Based on the February consumer price index, it noted that the purchasing power of the daily minimum wage of P537 is only P494.02 in NCR.
It also noted the current monthly minimum wage of P13,962 is “far below” the P16,625.00 a month poverty threshold for a family of five in Metro Manila.
Citing a study from the Ateneo Policy Center, the group said that daily food requirement amounts to P734 for a family of four, P917.50 for a family of five, or P61.17 per person.
“The current minimum daily wage of P537.00 can only accord workers and their families nutritionally deficient survival meals, which if continuously unaddressed by an army of undernourished Filipino workers, will have greater repercussions in the future of the country and of the economy,” the petition read.
The TUCP also said that the P3,874 from the monthly salary of workers is inadequate to cover health, transportation, communication, and education, among other nonfood requirements.
Although there are industries that still need to recover from the impact of the pandemic, the group said “there are gainers too such as finance and insurance; information and communication; public administration and defense; compulsory social activities, among others.”
“Clearly, our minimum wage earners and their families have fallen from the category of low-income to newly poor. This is a sad commentary on the social condition in our country where those who break their backs to sustain and expand the economy are now wallowing in poverty,” TUCP President Raymond Mendoza said in a statement.
TUCP officials said in a press conference that they will also file wage hike petitions in other regions, including Calabarzon, Central Luzon, and Davao Region.
Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECoP) President Sergio Ortiz-Luis, Jr. said by telephone that microenterprises, which account for 90% of businesses in the country, may not afford a wage increase for workers.
He noted many enterprises have been facing difficulties due to the pandemic, leading to business closures and layoffs.
Mr. Ortiz-Luis said the government should step in and provide assistance if small enterprises could not afford a pay increase.
Meanwhile, the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) renewed its call for a P750 minimum wage across the country.
The BMP, through its member organizations and regional alliances, has filed wage petitions in various regional wage boards, particularly in the NCR, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, and Eastern Visayas.
“The group is also preparing the filing of petitions in other regions,” BMP Secretary General Mike Garay said in a statement.
“Big businessmen have been using small enterprises to prevent a substantial wage increase. For us, the government should implement the necessary increase and extend wage subsidies to micro, small, and medium enterprises,” Mr. Garay said.