July 18, 2018
Nine regional wage boards have approved increases in workers’ basic pay ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address, but labor groups found the amounts too paltry to cope with the rising prices of goods.
Beginning Aug. 1, workers in Central Luzon will enjoy a P20 increase in minimum wage, or a range of P274 to P400, labor officials said on Tuesday.
In Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon), the increase ranges from P9 to P45, bringing the new rate to P303 to P400. In Soccsksargen, it ranged P16 to P18, adjusting the rate to P290 to P311.
P15M in ARMM
The wage board in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) gave workers a P15 increase (P270 to P280), while in Eastern Visayas the increase was between P20 and P30, for a new rate of P275 to P305.
In Western Visayas, the basic pay was raised from P8.50 to P26.50, bringing the new rate to P295 to P365. The cost of living allowance was also adjusted by P5 to P15.
While the wage boards of Central Visayas, Zamboanga and Davao have yet to publish the adjustments in their regions, workers could also expect an increase in the coming weeks.
Basic pay will increase by P10 to P52 (P313 to P386) in Central Visayas; by P20 (P303 to P316) in Zamboanga, and by P56.43 (P381.43 to 396.43) in Davao.
Of the nine wage boards, five have already implemented the increase: Calabarzon on April 28, Soccsksargen on May 11, ARMM on June 15, Eastern Visayas on June 25 and Western Visayas on July 12.
Labor Undersecretary Ciriaco Lagunzad III said the increases were meant “to protect” the purchasing power of minimum wage earners.
“This would ensure that they have income above the poverty threshold,” he said.
The needs of the workers and their families, and the capacity of employers to pay were key considerations in setting the amounts of increase, Lagunzad said.
The development needs of the region, employment and inflation were considered as well, he added.
The Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) said the pay increase would hardly help minimum wage workers move out of poverty.
“The wage increases will have no impact on the downward pattern of the daily minimum wage and its falling value of purchasing power,” ALU-TUCP spokesperson Alan Tanjusay said.
Based on the group’s computation, the average daily nominal wage of workers nationwide was P330.47. But due to inflation, its value eroded to P208.38 in April.
The workers blamed the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act which, they said, “further burdened the wage earners because the government did not spare food items, fuel, electricity and water from taxes.”
Labor groups in Central Luzon said the P20 increase would not help workers cope with runaway prices of basic goods and services.
“That’s a bit short of the wage increase we really needed,” said Emily Fajardo, a council member of the Workers for People’s Liberation in Central Luzon.
Fajardo said each worker should have an additional P1,200 to support a family of six, based on the estimate of the National Economic and Development Authority.
The P20 increase, she said, was “definitely not enough” to cover the price adjustments of rice (P5-P8/kilogram), sugar (P8/kg), canned goods (P3-P10), diesel (P15 cumulative) and transportation fare (additional P1 for jeepneys).
“Like a bread crumb,” Pol Viuya, chair of the Workers Alliance in Central Luzon, said of the adjustment.
The adjustments only bolstered calls for the abolition of the wage boards since they were proving to be “inutile” in addressing demands for an increase that could tide workers over the rising prices of goods, Nagkaisa labor coalition spokesperson Rene Magtubo said.