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Workers find ways to scrimp in the face of rising prices

By: - Reporter / @jovicyeeINQ
/ 05:05 PM September 05, 2018
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The higher-than-expected inflation rate of 6.4 percent in August forced workers to find ways to scrimp on their budget – from carpooling to bringing packed lunches to even foregoing dates on weekends.

Over the last few months, advertising manager Erick Listana said that he and his family felt the impact of the high inflation rate, which in the National Capital Region peaked to 7 percent last month.

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He used to have his lunch in a restaurant or at the company canteen. Now he brings packed meals to work to save money. He also had to cut down on some of his leisure activities, such as watching movies during the weekend.

Listana added that he also had to give an additional P2,000 to his family’s budget for groceries as the amount he had previously been contributing was no longer enough due to the continued rise in the price of basic commodities.

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To save on fuel, which soared on Tuesday by as much as P1.20, accountant Aries Atienza said that he and his colleagues decided to carpool to work. He noted, however, that his situation was not as bad as his brother’s, who had to figure out how he would be able to sell his produce in the market, given their high prices.

A small cabbage, he said, could now cost as much as P100 apiece.

Atienza said that to avoid incurring heavy losses, his brother would often cook the vegetables and sell them as pinakbet. He pointed out though that selling the produce as viand still did not turn in a profit.

As the August inflation rate again surpassed government estimates of as much as 4 percent, labor groups slammed the Duterte administration for its “incompetence” and its failure to provide social safety net initiatives which could have helped workers cope with the increasing costs of basic goods and services.

“It looks like government officials, including President Rodrigo Duterte’s economic managers, are incompetent in providing mitigating measures to relieve workers affected by the increases in the prices of goods and services. Are the Duterte Cabinet officials still working for workers and the people?”asked Alan Tanjusay, spokesperson of the moderate Associate Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP).

According to Rene Magtubo, spokesperson of the Nagkaisa labor coalition, the government should now work to provide workers, especially those earning minimum wages, with discounts in purchasing basic commodities, like rice.

He added that the situation also called for Congress to expedite the passage of the law that would set a national minimum wage of up to P750 “to help address the widening gap of workers’ average wage and the present cost of living.”

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According to ALU-TUCP’s recent estimates, though the average national minimum wage is at P355, its purchasing power in September was only worth P200.

Magtubo warned that should the Duterte administration still fail to address the high prices of goods, workers might soon resort to holding widespread protests to voice out their concerns and displeasure at the government’s “inadequate action.”

Meanwhile, the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa said that given the “worrisome development” in the country’s economy, the President should now figure out how he could help improve the lives of Filipinos and not waste time on attacking his political opponents.

“The worsening situation should convince Mr. Duterte to leave behind his divisive political direction and focus his energy on solving the country’s economic problems,” Sentro Secretary General Josua Mata said. /atm

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TAGS: Filipino workers, inflation rate, rising prices of basic commodities
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