The labor goup Partido Manggagawa (PM) is calling for wage hikes from employers and a new round of cash assistance from the government in response to the spikes in prices of food prices and job losses. Today, the Department of Labor and Employment reported that half of reported layoffs last year occurred in the last quarter of 2020.
“The working poor and unemployed Filipinos need immediate relief through a combo—umento mula sa kapitalista at ayuda mula sa gobyerno,” declared Rene Magtubo, PM national chair and a Marikina city councilor.
PM is calling for a P100 across-the-board wage hike for workers to recover the lost purchasing power since the nominal wage of P537 in Metro Manila has already been eroded to P434 in real wage terms according to the National Wages and Productivity Commission. Together with this, the group is asking that families of the unemployed and informal workers should be given a cash assistance of P10,000 a month.
Expenses for food comprise 50% of the budget of poor Filipinos thus the price hikes have a grave impact on nutrition, hunger and well-being. Before the pandemic, PM’s own cost of living survey already reached P1,300 a day, more than double the P537 minimum wage in Metro Manila. Thus PM advocated then an “Apat na Dapat” set of measures to address the gap in wages and cost of living: wage hikes, social security subsidies, tax exemptions and price discounts. It is also challenging Congress to drop the charter change bid and instead discuss the legislation of a minimum wage hike.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that prices of meat and vegetables have risen by 50% to 275% this month compared to January of 2020, before the lockdown due to the covid pandemic were imposed. “Poor Filipinos are reeling from the double whammy of job losses and price increases. No wonder the number of Filipino families going hungry ballooned to 7.6 million according to the September 2020 Social Weather Station survey. This is almost double the 4.2 million hungry families in May which was at the height of the lockdown. This is due to the combo of forced leaves, mass layoffs and price hikes. Thus cash must be put in the pockets of the working poor, the jobless and the hungry,” Magtubo explained.
“This combo measure is similar to the stimulus program of newly-elected US President Joe Biden who has announced a $15 per hour minimum wage together with $2,000 in checks for taxpayers. The Philippines should act in just as boldly since we have been ravaged as much as the US by failed policies to contain the pandemic,” Magtubo insisted.
He added that “According to the prestigious medical journal Lancet, the Philippines falls in the bottom third of countries in terms of managing the pandemic. Also the International Monetary Fund predicts that the Philippines will suffer the worst economic decline in the next five years due to the severe lockdown implemented. Thus the time to act is now!"
January 22, 2021