May 2, 2011
The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) called on the Metro Manila regional wage board to grant the P75 wage hike petition as it convened for its first public hearing today. “We ask the wage board to break expectations and approve the P75 petition since our study reveals that the cost of living for a family of six in Metro Manila as of March this year is already P1,010 a day,” asserted Renato Magtubo, PM national chair.
Magtubo meanwhile criticized President Benigno Aquino III for Labor Day announcement yesterday. “Private sector workers got nada from PNoy. PNoy did not really break bread with labor but he broke tradition by giving nothing to workers, not even a consuelo de bobo of non-wage benefits,” he stated.
“Even if NCR wage board approves the P75 petition, it will not be enough to bridge the huge gap between the minimum wage and the cost of living. The disparity between the P404 minimum wage and the cost of living is P606 or 150% of the ordinary wage. Even if two members 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 Magtubo.
PM arrived at its cost of living figure using its April 2010 survey of the daily cost of living and the National Statistics Office’s 2.6% estimate of the inflation rate from April 2010 to March 2011. “Our estimate is already an understatement since the rise in prices has been accelerating since March,” Magtubo clarified.
Beyond the immediate wage hike issue, the group is however pushing for an overhaul of the wage fixing system in the country. PM is advocating for the establishment of a National Wage Commission to replace the regional wage boards.
“The National Wage Commission will be different from the wage boards in that its mandate is to fix wages based on the single criterion of cost of living. And despite the huge difference between the minimum wage and the cost of living, the National Wage Commission can bridge the gap by a host of mechanisms among which are direct wage increases, tax exemptions, price discounts and social security subsidies for workers,” Magtubo explained.
He added that “This is a reform that is addressed to Congress. The regional wage system is a 22-year old structure that badly needs fixing. It has disadvantaged workers and fostered cheap labor in the country.”