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Labor group hits P25 pay hike

The country’s largest labor group on Wednesday decried the P25 increase in minimum daily pay for Metro Manila workers announced by Employers Confederation of the Philippines (Ecop) and urged President Duterte to approve a higher amount.

The acting Ecop president, Sergio Luiz-Ortiz, announced the P25 wage hike on top of the current P512 daily minimum wage after a meeting on Tuesday of the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB).

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In a statement, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) said the increase was “meaningless,” a “measly token,” if not a “nonincrease” that won’t solve the hunger problem of Filipinos.

“It is not a wage increase in real terms and falls far short of addressing the lost value of National Capital Region wages in the face of the spiraling prices of basic goods,” it said.

Just speculation

The P25 is only a fraction of the Metro Manila minimum wage increase of P320 that the group sought in June, after the second quarter inflation rate averaged 4.8 percent, and of the P344 it petitioned for last week to help workers recover their purchasing power, which had been further weakened by the 6.2-percent inflation rate in the third quarter.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said he had yet to receive the RTWPB’s recommended wage adjustment, adding that whatever amount announced by Ecop or TUCP was just speculation.

“I have not received any formal recommendation from the board, so I don’t know where TUCP and Ecop got their source,” Bello said.

He repeated his previous statement that any wage hike in Metro Manila “may not be less than P20,” which was based on the minimum amount of wage adjustment that has so far been implemented across the country.

TUCP vice president Luis Corral told reporters at a news conference that the announced wage increase was  “a grand deception.”

“How far can P25 go? Let us know where, how,” he said. “We will challenge that P25.”

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Alan Tanjusay, spokesperson for the Associated Labor Unions-TUCP (ALU-TUCP), said they were hoping that in the coming days the President would approve a bigger minimum daily pay.

If not, “hunger and poverty will only escalate and cause more instability from the labor front,” he said.

‘Hoping against hope’

“We are hoping against hope President Duterte will intervene and take the matter into his own hands and make sure the wage increase will be more than P25 as a gift for the workers who continue believing in him,” Tanjusay said.

TUCP president Raymond Mendoza said in a statement the P25 increase “doesn’t even come close to meeting the need to provide at least P72, which represents in real terms the lost purchasing value of the existing minimum wage.”

“Second, it does not address the lack of any real wage increase in the past 10 years,” Mendoza added.

“Third, the increase is in denial of real needs of workers in the face of a 6.7 percent inflation, which made basic needs unaffordable and beyond the workers’ reach,” he said.

Apart from the wage increase, there will also be an additional P10 daily cost of living allowance, TUCP said.

Ateneo study

Citing a September 2018 study by Ateneo de Manila University Policy Center, TUCP assistant general secretary Vicente Camilon said food prescribed for a family of four under the Pinggang Pinoy program of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute would already cost P643 per day, more than the current minimum daily wage of Metro Manila workers.

Hunger is rising in Metro Manila, with around 549,000 families, or 2.7 million people, suffering from hunger just this September, Camilon added.

He also cited a World Bank study saying that while the country’s labor productivity grew 3.4 percent, real wage growth, or the increase in purchasing power, was zero.

Corral said his group would likely file a petition “based on supervening events” for another wage next week.

Tanjusay said the RTWPB decision was based “on the long-disproven myth that economic benefits will trickle down to workers.”

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TAGS: Alan Tanjusay, ALU-TUCP, DOLE, Ecop, Employers Confederation of the Philippines, Luis Corral, Metro Manila pay hike, Sergio Luis-Ortiz, Silvestre Bello III
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