Filipino workers living in time capsule with their low wages—says labor group

The simplest explanation why the Filipino workers particularly those in the national capital region are having a hard time surviving on a daily basis is because what they are receiving right now are wages enough to buy food and other basic goods from 2017 level of prices while the prices of basic commodities have been regularly increasing since then, labor group Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (Sentro) said in a statement.

“To recover the lost value from continuing inflation, at least P28.17 is needed to be added to the current level of P512.00 daily wage, for the workers in the NCR,” says Czar Joseph Rolly Castillo, resident economist of Sentro.

According to Castillo, the 20-peso increase in minimum wage being proposed by the government through the regional wage board is not enough to make minimum wage earner as well-off as last year.

“There is a huge gap between the current level of prices and the P512.00 a day minimum wage which distorts the real value of wage hence the urgent task of the government is to increase the daily wages by at least P28.17 just to recover from the inflation and later, real wage increase should be added,” Castillo said.

Castillo also said that his group refuses to call the P28.17 as “wage increase” per se “because what it will do is only to align the current wage with the current prices, hence we cannot see the basis of the government’s proposal of P20.00 ‘wage increase,’ adding that “since prices are still expected to increase until the end of the year, minimum wage will continue to be eroded, thus, a 20-peso increase may not be enough to maintain the purchasing power of workers from last year.”

According to Castillo, his group and its networks of other groups have been proposing for a living wage because what the workers have been receiving are barely enough to physically survive.

“We have interviewed many workers these past few months, we have visited them in their areas from different parts of Metro Manila to check on their situations and what we have found are just confirmations from what we have known all along—the P512.00 a day wage is only enough, barely enough, to allow them to buy food and other expenses would have to be sourced out from other means of livelihood,” he said.

Castillo said that they define living wage as yardstick or benchmark that will allow workers and their families secure their most basic needs such as food, housing and utilities, education, health and other necessities.

Assuming that a wage earner works from Monday to Saturday, “a living wage of P800 a day would give him roughly P20,000.00 a month,” Castillo said underscoring again that this amount is only for the most basic necessities.

“In fact other labor groups like Kilusang Mayo Uno (Php750 minimum wage) and TUCP Party List (seeking for Php320 across-the-board wage hike) demand higher increase in minimum wage. The measly 20 peso increase would even be futile amidst the unabated increases in the prices of basic goods and services”, added Castillo.

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