Labor group presses P500 food subsidy
A labor group has renewed its call for President Rodrigo Duterte to approve a monthly food voucher worth P500 for some 4 million minimum wage earners nationwide to help them cope with the extraordinary increases in the prices of goods and services.
The Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) said the average daily minimum wage of P232 nationwide remained woefully inadequate, despite recent increases in the floor pay.
“On the average, wage boards acted only on the capacity of employers and businesses to afford the wage increases by adjusting the nominal minimum wage rates by P32 to P36 a day nationwide,” ALU-TUCP spokesperson Alan Tanjusay said on Sunday.
‘Too small for workers’
In a statement, Tanjusay said the amount was “too small for workers who help business and economy grow.”
Since January, regional wage boards have issued orders adjusting minimum wage rates in each region, except for Caraga.
Last week, the Metro Manila wage board adjusted the wage rate from P512 to P537, raising the average daily nominal minimum wage rates in 17 regions from P200 a day in September last year to P232 a day as of Nov. 11.
ALU-TUCP said the average minimum wage of P232 daily was too inadequate for millions of poorly paid entry-level and contractual workers in agriculture, services and the manufacturing sector.
These workers, according to the group, are the main drivers of the country’s high and competitive economic growth in the region.
They need at least P800 to P850 a day to live above the poverty threshold and remain productive at work, Tanjusay said.
ALU-TUCP submitted to Mr. Duterte in April 2017 a proposal for the government to grant each minimum wage earner a food voucher of P500 monthly, a nontransferable subsidy, to help cushion the impact of inflation.
The proposal was endorsed by the Department of Labor and Employment to the President in June but at a lower amount of P200.
“It is apparent that the recent wage orders will fall far short of meeting the 10-months-and-running price spike in basic goods suffered by worker families,” Tanjusay said.
He said the subsidy proposal “has widespread support, including from the leadership of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III himself.”
Tanjusay said the subsidy proposal would not prevent ALU-TUCP from filing new wage petitions.
The ALU-TUCP spokesperson said the government should provide a lifeline through a food voucher to help minimum wage workers mired in poverty.
Inflation rose to a nine-year high of 6.7 percent in September and stayed at the same level in October, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.
Food purchases decline
ALU-TUCP vice president Luis Corral said the National Economic and Development Authority had observed a decline in food and basic goods expenditures, which contributed to the slowdown in the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth.
The economy grew 6.1 percent year on year in the third quarter, the slowest in three years.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said on Thursday that many consumers had cut down on purchases of food and other essential items, contributing to a slower GDP growth. —Tina G. Santos
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