Wage hike derided

Ariel Casilao

“CRUMB wage”

This is how Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao described the reported P25 increase in the minimum wage for the workers in the National Capital Region (NCR).

According to Casilao, the P25 increase cannot buy a kilo of rice, not even the NFA rice.

He urged workers receiving minimum wage and below not to be contented with “crumb wage hike” and to demand just living wage not only for NCR workers but also for the rest of the country.

The Makabayan solons continue to push for a P750 national minimum wage as contained in House Bill 7787.

He dismissed the wage increase approved by the NCR wage board as too low and an insult to the Filipino working class demanding a significant wage increase.

“The demand is not for their caprice, it’s for their survival, an economic relief against unabated rising costs of basic goods and services mainly due to the Train law,” he said.

“The P25 wage increase cannot even buy 1 kilo NFA rice much less cover their transport fare going to work and vice versa.  Due to unabated oil price hike, the LTFRB approved a Php2 fare hike, making the P10 minimum fare for jeepney permanent effective this coming November,” the solon added.

Moreover, the lawmaker also questioned why it was the ECOP that announced the Php25 wage hike instead of the National Wage Productivity Commission.

“The message is clear, ECOP is blatantly setting the standard of what should be acceptable wage increase for them without considering the plight of Filipino workers affected by inflation and cost of living. Workers should reject this utter manipulative and insulting offer by big employers representing ECOP,” he said.

Philippine Statistics Authority’s Annual Survey of Philippine Business and Industry (APSB) reveals that NCR firms (with 20 workers and up) in 2015 had combined profits of P903 billion, while giving an average daily basic pay (ADBP) of Php530.

Therefore, raising the minimum wage in NCR to P750 will cost Php133 billion which is just 14.6 percent of their profits.

Also, between 2009 – 2017, labor productivity in NCR grew by 35 percent from P456, 059 per worker to P614, 297. But in the same period, the real value of the mandated minimum wage increased by only 11 percent and the ADBP by 16 percent, both in real terms at constant 2012 prices. This suggested that a large part of labor productivity gains goes to the employers reflected as profits.

In Bicol, the region worst hit by inflation which recorded 9 percent, despite the arrival of imported rice prices remain high. Its rice inflation rate is 12.5 percent.

Minimum wage in Bicol is P290 for establishments employing 10 workers and above and P280 for establishments employing 9 below. In the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), minimum wage is P280 for non-agriculture, while P270 for non-plantation and plantation workers. ARMM is part of the top 7 regions which recorded high inflation.

A ‘pittance’

Militant labor group Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) yesterday called the wage hike for Metro Manila workers a “pittance”.

The group insisted that the additional P25 is not enough to recover the value lost due to inflation after prices of all commodities steadily increased in the past months.

“Saan aabot ang P25? Hindi pa nito mabibili ang dati na naming binibili bago pumasok ang 2018,” said Leody De Guzman, BMP chairperson and senatorial aspirant.

The veteran labor leader argued that a P537 daily wage is a far cry from the estimated P1,400 daily wage pegged by Socioeconomic planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia or the constitutional provision on Living Wage.

Last June, the NEDA chief said that in order for a family of five to live decently, it has to earn P42,000 a month.

He said that the measly increase in the minimum wage is not surprising with a tripartite body where labor is outvoted two-to-one against representatives of employers and the government.

“Sadyang nakadisenyo ang regional wage board para pagkaisahan ng kapitalista’t gobyerno ang manggagawa. Sa amin nagmula ang tinatamasa nilang tubo at buwis, hindi na sila nahiya, ang kakapal nila.”

With Jun I. Legaspi