Alms, not relief
With both workers and employers dissatisfied over the recent wage increase (“P25 basic pay hike in Metro Manila: labor, business unhappy,” 11/6/18), it is high time the government reformed the broken system of wage-fixing by instituting a national minimum wage that is indexed to both inflation and productivity.
The amount of P25 is just alms, not relief, to overworked yet underpaid Filipino workers. It cannot compensate for the 7-percent runaway inflation in Metro Manila and real wage stagnation despite 50-percent productivity growth from 2001 to 2016.
The amount is short by 30 percent to make up for the P35.84 erosion in wages due to the 7-percent inflation in the NCR recorded in August this year. Partido Manggagawa’s own cost of living estimate for a family of five in Metro Manila is around P1,300 a day, more than double the new minimum wage of P537.
But even if the NCR wage board had ordered a P35.84 wage hike, it still means real wages are just frozen. But workers should partake of a just share in the fruits of production as mandated by the Constitution.
There are about a hundred minimum wages in the country that are different not just across regions, but even across cities and municipalities in industrial areas as Calabarzon and Central Luzon. Wage differentials vary greatly. The NCR rate of P537 is almost double the ARMM rate of P280. Yet the cost of living is not significantly different across regions, cities and municipalities. What kind of system is this?
This latest episode is a wake-up call for organized labor to unite around the call to abolish the wage boards and enact a new system of wage fixing that will implement the constitutional mandate of a living wage for workers. It is high time we rallied round the call to end wage regionalization.
RENE MAGTUBO, Partido Manggagawa chair, firstname.lastname@example.org
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