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Living wage campaign launched in the Philippines

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9 August, 2017Philippine trade unions hold a three-day workshop laying the framework and strategies to pursue a living wage in the country.

Twenty-two national and local union leaders in the textile and clothing sector affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union and representatives from the Workers’ Party and the NAGKAISA labour coalition participated in the planning workshop for a living wage campaign on 20-22 July 2017 in Baguio City, Philippines jointly organized by IndustriALL and FES.

For IndustriALL the living wage is fundamental. Through training projects and workshops IndustriALL and its affiliates develop and implement national action plans, helping unions to fight for a living wage and eradicate wage discrimination. The promotion of industry-wide wage agreements that guarantee all workers, including precarious workers, a fair share of the wealth they generate, is an important part of this struggle.

The participants of the workshop resolved that workers should never stop fighting for a just wage as a reasonable way of distributing wealth equitably. The participants also said that unions should engage in the fight for living wages, while strengthening their arguments and evidence proving that a bare minimum income is not sufficient for workers and their family to live decently.

In the Philippines workers and their families are unable to live a decent life on the minimum wage.

Even for those of us who are organized and have a collective agreement, we are still struggling because of the rising cost of basic goods. It must be much worse for workers on the minimum wage,” lamented Ferdinand Meneses, union officer at a textile factory.

There is a need for the affiliates to assess their strength in representing the sectors to be able to come up with an appropriate strategy in pushing for a just living wage,

said Annie Adviento, IndustriALL South East Asia regional secretary.

There are three key elements for unions to pursue a living wage: supporting a national minimum wage campaign, increasing capacity to bargain for a living wage and IndustriALL’s initiative with global brands called ACT. 

The ACT process that has been developed by IndustriALL seeks to establish freedom of association, collective bargaining and living wages to be negotiated with major brands is worth replicating at every level,”

added Adviento.

Participants adopted the following action plan for the living wage campaign:

  • Reactivate workers’ coalition for a living wage
  • Update the existing research study on the living wage in the Philippines
  • Engage government and stakeholders in a national discussion on the living wage
  • Launch a large-scale awareness and information campaign about living wages
  • Push for an amendment of the existing minimum wage fixing mechanism
  • Localize the ACT process in the Clothing and Textile Industry Tripartite Council

The participants will work on the living wage campaign with the support of the broader trade union movement at the national, sectoral and enterprise level.