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TUCP: Proposed wage hikes underscore the resounding demand for true family living wages amid surging inflation

Trade Union Congress of the Philippines - TUCP

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) welcomes Senate Bill No. 2002, filed by Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, which calls for a ₱150 across-the-board increase of the minimum wages of workers in the private sector across the regions.

TUCP President and Deputy Speaker Raymond Democrito C. Mendoza (TUCP Party-list) also filed House Resolution No. 635 that urges the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC) to define the concept of a family living wage and accordingly determine its amount to guide the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards (RTWPBs) in their determination of minimum wages.

“We welcome these various initiatives to increase the wages of workers because these many proposals, especially spearheaded by the Senate President, underscore the badly needed wage adjustment in light of the erosion of the purchasing power of workers’ wages due to inflation. In the National Capital Region (NCR) alone, the real value of the minimum wage of workers decreased by P88 per day this month from the nominal daily minimum wage value of ₱570 to the now-real daily minimum wage value of ₱482. These are not decent wages that can sustain the health, productivity, and decent life of working Filipinos and their families trapped in subsistence conditions as the stubbornly high inflation persists,” explained Deputy Speaker Mendoza.

According to the latest working poverty estimates for 2022 of the International Labour Organization (ILO), around 2.22% of the working population are in extreme poverty as they are living on less than $1.90 or just a little more than a hundred pesos per day.

“Most of our workers are poor because their wages are not enough to meet their basic needs and of their families. This is compounded by the fact that underemployment remains in double digits at 14.1% which translates to 6.65 million underemployed Filipinos. While they are classified as ‘employed’, these jobs do not earn decent wages nor provide for job security and deprive them and their families of needed wherewithal for their necessities,” lamented Deputy Speaker Mendoza.

Since last year, the TUCP has welcomed the directive of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma for the regional wage boards to review the current minimum wages amid soaring prices. “However, we are gravely disappointed by the fact that the wage boards have been studying the minimum wage amid skyrocketing prices of commodities for far too long already. We are scandalized by the lack of sense of urgency in responding to the woes of our workers. What is still missing to this day is the national Labor and Employment Plan (LEP) which is 7 months late into this Administration. Where is the playbook to ensure living wages and permanent decent jobs? What now, DOLE?” asked TUCP Vice President Luis Corral.

In the meantime, the TUCP reiterates its concrete immediate suggestions to cushion the impact of surging price spikes on workers, especially minimum wage earners:

EMERGENCY COST OF LIVING ALLOWANCE (ECOLA). The TUCP urges the regional wage boards to issue ECOLA orders to alleviate the plight of our workers amid high inflation. ECOLA orders have been ordered several times before across the regions. ECOLA must approximate the purchasing power lost due to inflation from the current nominal minimum wages set by the regional wage boards, or a portion of the gap between the nominal and real minimum wages, considering our predicament where all—both workers and businesses—are hit by the inflation as well as still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, Ukraine-Russia war, looming global recession, and climate change.

BBM AYUDA PARA SA MANGGAGAWANG PILIPINO (BAMP). Similar to the COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) for affected workers of firms that streamlined or closed during the pandemic, the TUCP proposes BAMP that seeks to give a one-time big-time ₱5,000 government financial assistance to around four million minimum wage earners. This is to help both workers and businesses amid high inflation towards pump-priming the economy through consumption spending for basic needs as we gradually build back better.

“Now is the time for urgency and dispatch towards an immediate intervention to save our workers from the vicious cycle of poverty and hunger. Our call in TUCP has always been clear and resounding—enough with poverty wages, put life and meaning into the principle of true family living wages!” emphasized Deputy Speaker Mendoza.

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