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TUCP: ₱40 NCR minimum wage increase too late, too little, and myopic

Trade Union Congress of the Philippines - TUCP

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) maintains that the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board in the National Capital Region (NCR – RTWPB) Wage Order No. 24 providing for an increase of ₱40 to the daily minimum wage in the region from ₱570 to ₱610, is too late, too little, and myopic.

“After a very long wait for much-needed relief from the skyrocketing cost of basic goods and services, the paltry ₱40 increase in the NCR daily minimum wage amounts to almost nothing. It is not even half of the ₱88 already lost to inflation from the purchasing power of the current ₱570 NCR daily minimum wage,” TUCP Vice President Luis Corral said.

“To justify and assert that ₱40 is enough since the daily minimum wage should be a mere safety net and different from a living wage is atrocious in the face of the daily struggle to merely survive. Giving a paltry 40 pesos increase is akin to saying that the daily minimum wage should not be based on the Department of Science and Technology’s Pinggang Pinoy daily healthy food requirements for a family of five, which as per computation, amounts to ₱917.50. This shared myopic perspective of both the DOLE and employer of the concept of the daily minimum wage as a safety net, should be revised and reformed. It has no place under the modern and modernizing vision of the Marcos Administration,” Corral explained.

“How can it be considered a safety net if the daily minimum wage is not even enough to bring nutritious food to the table, or be able to keep body and soul together? Further, how can the minimum wage be different from the living wage when the demand for a living wage is, in fact, a factor under the wage formula in arriving at the daily minimum wage?”, argued Corral.

“We have repeatedly raised the spectre of stunting and malnutrition of children – the future Filipino workforce, and the alarming prevalence of diabetes, myocardial diseases, and chronic kidney diseases, which is tied to poverty wages where workers can only afford noodles and canned sardines. So how can the minimum wage as a safety net be viewed as if it has nothing to do with the consequences of malnutrition? Or a future workforce that will be uncompetitive? Or as related to our current workforce falling prey to disease?”, Corral asked.

“TUCP maintains wages stagnated even as labor productivity grew. For more than three decades, labor productivity grew steadily and even exponentially, while minimum wages grew so little slow and so slow. Workers were not given their equitable share of this growth. In 2017, a worker employed in NCR contributed ₱1.1 million to our region’s GDP while the annual minimum wage was just around ₱130,000. Now, the additional minuscule ₱40 will only perpetuate the unjust productivity-pay gap that continues to widen, and increases the gap between the rich and the poor,” explained Corral.

R.A. 6727 or the Wage Rationalization Act, which established our present regional minimum wage-setting mechanism through the regional wage boards, was enacted to ensure decent living and the just share of workers and their families in the fruits of their labor.

“Today, the NCR regional wage board failed in its mandate and failed the working Filipinos and their families. They are perpetuating their sorry track record of more than three decades in maintaining subsistence wages, so low as not to make a dent on inflation, totally disproportionate to productivity growth, and inutile in bringing nutritious food to families’ tables,” emphasized Corral.

“The NCR wage board together with the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC), the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and our economic managers who responded belatedly and insubstantially to workers’ woes, or even opposed legitimate wage demand, all committed a grave disservice to His Excellency President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s battle call that no one should be left behind as we build back better—”sama sama tayong babangon muli!”, underlined Corral.

“To save working Filipinos and their families from being the class of the permanently working poor trapped in low-quality jobs and poverty wages, the struggle continues in Congress. The TUCP fully supports Senate Bill No. 2002, filed by Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, and filed a counterpart measure in the House of Representatives through our Party-list Representative and House Deputy Speaker Raymond Democrito C. Mendoza who filed House Bill No. 7871 or the Wage Recovery Act of 2023. Both seek to legislate the ₱150 wage increases for private sector workers,” asserts Corral.

“This badly-needed legislated wage recovery increase will not cause business closures, job losses, and skyrocketing prices—because that would only defeat our call for decent jobs with living wages for all. We have heard these myths repeated over and over again. But both experience and studies disproved them. All these stem from the narrow-minded and short-sighted view that better wages are mere additional costs when, in fact, better wages and higher purchasing power increases workers’ productivity and pump-primes consumer demand as we build back better from the pandemic amid global and domestic headwinds,” explained Corral.

“Conscience, good business sense, and sense of reason dictate that our legislators should rightfully heed our people’s pleas. As Filipino workers struggle, children starve, and our countrymen migrate, before us is not merely an economic but ultimately a moral imperative to increase wages now,” urged Corral.

“The TUCP believes that now is the time for employers to share in the burden and share in the sacrifices that workers have been long enduring. Instead of the disappointing ₱40 increase that will only plunge workers and their families deeper into the vicious cycle of poverty, we continue to call for passage into law of the wage bill providing for a ₱150 wage recovery increase to make life more bearable for the more than 1 million minimum wage earners in NCR during these difficult times. And under better times, we shall continue to struggle for true family living wages,” said Corral.

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