Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) senatorial candidate Win Gatchalian urged the national government to increase the minimum wage, stressing the current wages are insufficient for the basic daily needs of poor Filipino families.
“Minimum wage earners are living dangerously. They can be driven to poverty at any given time because they live from hand-to-mouth with their wages. They don’t have savings to keep them afloat during emergency,” said Gatchalian, senior vice chair of the House Committee on Metro Manila Development.
Gatchalian– the only candidate running exclusively under Partido Galing at Puso of Senators Grace Poe and Chiz Escudero– said this as Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz shot down proposals by labor groups for another across-the-board wage hike.
“The next increase in the minimum wage should be significant enough in order to have an effect on the social mobility of those at the bottom of the social pyramid and lift them from poverty,” said Gatchalian, a 3-term mayor of Valenzuela City, which used to be known as the “strike capital” of the Philippines.
Baldoz said the wage board will only meet for deliberations on the petition for a P154.00-increase being petitioned by the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP).
The daily salary only rose by P15.00 following the wage order for Metro Manila issued in March last year. In effect, minimum wage went up to P481 for non-agricultural workers and P444 for agricultural workers.
Gatchalian cited the study of the research think tank IBON Foundation, which reported that a family of five in the National Capital Region needs around P906.67 to meet their basic needs. A family of six needs P1,088.00.
“Any wage increase should be high enough to fully address the basic needs of households, especially the poorest ones. A token increase is simply unacceptable. The increase should be high enough to help families escape from poverty traps,” Gatchalian pointed out.
IBON Foundation also observed that real minimum wage (adjusted for inflation) in Metro Manila– already the highest in the country– only rose by P17.06 from P346.78 in July 2010 to P363.84 in December 2015.
The TUCP justified its petition for a P154.00-increase in the daily minimum wage in Metro Manila, with spokesperson Alan Tanjusay saying the real value of such wage is only P315.56, which is so much lower than the government’s estimated poverty threshold of P417 per day.
On a monthly basis, the real wage value was only P9,467, which is less than the P12,517 income needed to meet the basic food needs of a five-member household based on the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI).