Thursday, April 25, 2013

Low wage policy, job fairs won’t bring Pilar and Pepe out of chronic poverty

25 April 2013

The labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) deplores the “no wage hike” on Labor Day announcement made by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) the other day, saying it is the country’s unemployment problem and low-wage policy that keeps Pilar and Pepe suffer a life of misery under chronic poverty.

The group declared that the call for a wage adjustment will be one of the highlights of the big May Day rally planned by the labor coalition Nagkaisa. Today the coalition is holding a motorcade that will pass by different government agencies including DOLE. On the eve of Labor Day, PM is holding an overnight vigil of several hundred workers and poor at Mendiola to press for its demands against contractualization and high prices.

The no wage hike announcement coincided with the release by the National Statistical Coordinating Board (NSCB) of a report indicating the country’s failure to cut poverty incidence during the last six years (2006-2012).

The same report also revealed that those who produce the country’s food requirements—the agricultural workers and fisherfolks—were the lowest paid among employed workers.

PM chair, Renato Magtubo, said he found Malacanang’s wage freeze announcement as a deliberate attempt to distance itself from the wage issue in anticipation of this poverty report by the NSCB. 

“Everybody is aware of the fact that poverty is deeply associated with income and the latter being the product of flawed employment and wage policy.  Yet the government is trying to skirt the wage issue as if this chronic problem of poverty is not enough to warrant immediate action even prior to the Labor Day celebration,” lamented Magtubo.

The National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC) in its last estimate (2008) placed the family living wage (FLW) in NCR at PhP 917 per day.  FLW is significantly higher in the poorest region of ARMM where it was estimated to reach PhP 1,322. 

PM is advocating for the implementation of the living wage concept provided under the 1987 Constitution as against the minimum wage concept under Republic Act 6727 or the Wage Rationalization Law.  The minimum wage in Metro Manila stands at only PhP446 a day or less than half of the desired FLW.

“To live a decent life, a Filipino family needs at least two minimum wage earners to survive a gruelling daily life in Metro Manila.  Sadly 27.9% of the population based on NSCB report cannot even get out of the poverty line as they have no source of income to meet the basic food and non-food requirements now estimated to be at PhP 7,821 a month or PhP 260  a day,” said Magtubo.

The labor leader likewise stressed that low wage and unemployment problems are twin issues that the government should address frontally and not through mega showcase such as job fairs done during Labor Day. PM is advocating a paradigm shift in the economic policy of the government as a step towards resolving the job and income crisis.

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