May 2, 2010
The labor party-list Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) released its own study of the cost of living for a family of six in Metro Manila as of April this year that reveal it has already reached P1,000 a day. "This survey shows that the gap between the P382 minimum wage in the NCR and the present cost of living is a yawning P618 or 162% of the ordinary wage. Even if both parents work—which is the buy one, take one policy of the government—then their combined income will not be enough to feed the entire family," stated Renato Magtubo, PM chairperson.
The group’s actual computation only shows P984 but its study did not provide for savings and social security which in the government’s basket of goods and services constitutes 10% of the cost of living. Furthermore, PM's study did not include items such as leisure and recreation, and the family budget for health excluded medical expenses. Magtubo said that "If we include such items, and we must in a more accurate survey, then the cost of living will easily breach P1,000 per day."
He added that "The National Wages and Productivity Council's cost of living estimate of P917 have to be updated in the light of this study and in the face of continuing inflation." PM thus concludes that even if the P75 wage petition is granted by the NCR wage board, such will not be enough to bridge the huge gap between the minimum wage and the cost of living.
PM however doubts that the NCR wage board will grant the P75 wage petition. “Since the NCR wage board was established in 1989, no basic wage increase ever granted was above P30, whether the economy was in boom or bust. The wage boards must be abolished for being inutile. Its wage orders are always delayed, stingy and benefits merely a small section of workers because it is not across-the-board and riddled with exemptions, deferments and creditability clauses," declared Magtubo.
The group is advocating for the establishment of a National Wage Commission. “The National Wage Commission is different in that its mandate is to fix wages based on the single criterion of cost of living. And despite the huge gap between the present minimum wage and the current cost of living, the National Wage Commission can achieve equalizing the two by a host of mechanisms among which are direct wage increases, tax exemptions, price discounts at social security subsidies for workers,” Magtubo explained.
Magtubo also argued that "Since we should not impose the burden of household chores and child rearing to the female parent, then the basket of goods should provide for a house-help. That is not anymore a luxury especially in the light of the insistence of the state that both parents must work instead of having just a single breadwinner."