THE Philippines’ largest labor federation filed a petition on Monday seeking a P430 increase in the minimum wage in the Central Visayas, which would bring daily pay to workers there to P808.
In its petition filed before the Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board in the Central Visayas, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) cited price hikes, malnutrition, hunger, and poverty in the region.
“Minimum wage earners and their families in Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor and other islands are barely surviving with their meager income,” it said in a statement, noting that the prices of basic goods and services in the region have risen substantially since 2018.
The TUCP said that the P18 increase in the daily minimum wage that the regional wage board granted in January 2020 has long been offset by rising prices.
“We are deeply concerned that with the looming price hikes in the basic commodities, including electricity and transport fares, our workers and their families could really go hungry this time and that is unacceptable to us,” it said. “We are filing our wage petition today to help our workers and their families in Cebu and in the entire Region VII to at least survive.”
TUCP said the current P15 allocated for the daily food expenses of every worker in the region is much lower than the P61.17/meal/person estimated by the Ateneo Policy Center using a state-designed food model.
“What kind of food can be bought for P15.00? Do our workers deserve just to eat nutritionally deficient foods while they continue breaking their backs to sustain and expand the economy?”
The labor group said the workers’ sacrifices must be recognized in helping the region achieve vibrant pre-pandemic growth. The region’s share of the national economy was estimated at 9.35% between 2016 and 2019.
“Central Visayas has been the consistent fourth-biggest contributor to the GDP, averaging 6.44% for the period 2016-2020,” it said. “And what do they get? Malnutrition, hunger, and poverty.”
The TUCP said that the current monthly minimum wage of P9,663.94 is far below the P16,295.00 a month poverty threshold for a family of five in the Central Visayas.
Citing rising fuel prices, the TUCP last week sought a P470 increase in the daily minimum wage of workers in the National Capital Region, which accounted for 32.3% of the Philippines’ economic output.
At the height of calls for a minimum wage increase, the government’s chief economic planner proposed a four-day workweek to help businesses cut costs and insulate workers from rising fuel prices.
President Rodrigo R. Duterte is set to announce his decision on the proposal soon.
Labor Undersecretary Benjo Santos M. Benavidez said the government “can only encourage, not obligate the private sector to adopt four-day workweeks.” — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza