May 3, 2010
The labor party-list Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) released its own study of the cost of living for a family of six in Calabarzon as of April this year that reveal it has already reached P808 a day. "This survey shows that the gap between the P320 minimum wage in the most urbanized part of Calabarzon and the present cost of living is a yawning P488 or 153% 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 Raquel Monzon, a trade union leader of PM in Rosario, Cavite.
The group’s computation is an underestimation since it 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. Monzon said that "If we include such items, and we must in a more comprehensive survey, then the cost of living may reach P900 per day or more."
In reaction to Malacañang’s order to all regional wage boards to deliberate on a wage hike, PM doubts that the Region IV-A wage board will grant a substantial salary increase. “Since the Calabarzon wage board was established in 1989, no basic wage increase ever granted was above P20, which today is not even enough to buy an additional kilo of the cheapest commercial rice. 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 Monzon.
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 equalize the two by a host of mechanisms among which are direct wage increases, tax exemptions, price discounts at social security subsidies for workers,” Monzon explained.
She added that “The formation of a National Wage Commission should be on the agenda of the next Congress and must be certified as urgent by the new President, if his administration will bring real change to workers lives.”
Monzon 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."