The cost of living in Metro Manila has risen to P1,200 for a family of six members, an amount that the parents could not raise if they are both just earning the current minimum wage, according to a labor group.
The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) said it had conducted a study showing that the cost of living in the capital now stands at P1,217 a day or nearly triple the P456 minimum wage in the National Capital Region (NCR).
“This estimate shows that the gap between the P456 minimum wage in the NCR and the present cost of living is a yawning P761 or 167 percent of the ordinary wage,” PM chair Renato Magtubo said in a statement.
“Even if both parents work—which is the buy-one-take-one policy of the government—then their combined income will not be enough to feed the entire family,” he added.
Magtubo said PM’s estimate did not include savings and social security, which in the government’s basket of goods and services constitute 10 percent of the cost of living. It also did not include expenses for leisure and recreation, and the family budget for health also excluded medical expenses.
“If we include such items, and we must in a more accurate survey, then the cost of living will significantly exceed P1,200 per day,” he said.
National Wage and Productivity Council’s cost of living estimate of P917 for the Metro residents in 2008 was “hopelessly outdated in the light of this study and in the face of continuing inflation,” he said.
The labor leader doubted that the NCR wage board would approve the petition filed earlier this month seeking a P85 wage increase. “Since the NCR wage board was established in 1989, no basic wage increase ever granted was above P30, whether the economy was in boom or bust. The wage boards must be abolished for being inutile.”
“Its wage orders are always delayed, stingy and benefits merely a small section of workers because it is not across-the-board and riddled with exemptions, deferments and creditability clauses,” he said.
PM is advocating the establishment of a National Wage Commission to replace the regional wage boards and fix wages based on the single criterion of cost of living.
Despite the huge gap between the present minimum wage and the current cost of living, the proposed commission can equalize the two by a host of mechanisms, like direct wage increases, tax exemptions, price discounts and social security subsidies for workers, he added. Philip C. Tubeza