Holiday economics makes no sense for workers
President Marcos Jr. issued a last-minute proclamation declaring Feb. 24 as a special nonworking day to promote holiday economics. But holiday economics makes no sense to workers. How can workers go on a vacation for P570 per day? The minimum wage is not even enough for basic necessities and is less than half the living wage of P1,300 per day.
It is adding insult to injury when the government promotes holiday economics to workers. Workers suffer a salary cut when a nonworking holiday is moved to a weekday since the no work, no pay rule applies.
Government should act on the P100-wage hike demand before it goes on promoting holiday economics. According to the government’s own Ambisyon Natin 2040, the family household income should be P120,000 per month so that it can set aside P10,000 for holiday expenses—divided into P4,000 for “relax with family and friends” and P6,000 for “occasional trips around the country.” Given the government’s inaction on the demand for a salary increase, it will take a century before the current P14,820 monthly minimum wage reaches P120,000, if at all.
In fact, even the few Filipinos, who can afford to go on a holiday, cannot do so because of the midnight announcement. Holidays are planned in advance.
According to the calculations of Partido Manggagawa based on the consumer price index data of the Philippine Statistics Authority, P88 has been eroded from the P570 minimum wage in Metro Manila. Inflation outside Metro Manila is even higher. Thus, the P435 minimum wage of Central Visayas workers has been reduced by P63. While in Western Visayas, P87 has been cut from the P450 minimum wage. Partido Manggagawa’s estimate is that P1,300 is needed so that a family of five can provide for its daily cost of living.
Instead of a hollow policy of holiday economics, we ask the government for an “Apat na Dapat” reform package. First, wage hikes. Second, abolition of regressive taxes like VAT and application of progressive taxation such as a wealth tax on oligarchs and billionaires. Third, social security subsidies for informal workers. Fourth, discounts on basic commodities. These will protect and improve the wages and incomes of workers in both the formal and informal economy.
Finally, we ask Congress to consider the long-standing demand for the abolition of the regional wage boards, which discriminate against workers outside Metro Manila. In place of the wage boards, we demand a national wage commission with the power to adjust wages on the basis of price increases and productivity growth. Even before the recent inflation, wages have stagnated amidst a decade and a half of 50 percent rise in labor productivity. This means that employers have monopolized economic growth and workers have been left behind.
Judy Ann Miranda,