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Philippine unions fight for living wage

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30 May, 2022Amid a fuel price hike and the erosion of real wages, Philippine unions are fighting for a living wage by filing petitions with the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards (RTWPBs).

Associated Labor Unions (ALU-TUCP) has filed petitions at twelve out of 17 RTWPB to demand an increase to the minimum wage, currently ranging from PHP724 (US$13.9) to PHP1007 (US$19.3).
ALU national vice president Eva Arcos travelled across the country to file the petitions and said:

“It is frustrating that our new minimum wages are below poverty thresholds. It is due to an anti-union environment, a low CBA coverage, Covid-19 and the increase of prices on goods.

“Although the new minimum wage rate will increase workers’ budget for basic needs, it has never ever been substantial. We need to use it as a benchmark to push companies to adjust salaries and avoid wage distortions.”

Metal Workers Alliance of the Philippines (MWAP) have organized wage forums and protests to demand that the daily minimum wage rate be increased to PHP 750 (US$14.3) as a national standard.
MWAP president Mary Ann Castillo said:

“The government has not approved any wage increase since 2018. Our meagre wages can't cope with the rising prices of commodities. The new minimum wage will only serve as a temporary cushion to the devastating impact of inflation and wage erosion to our livelihood.”

Since Mid-May, RTWPBs have announced the new minimum wage for different geographical areas. In the greater Manila area, the daily rate increased 6.1 per cent, from PHP 537 (US$10.3) to PHP 570 (US$10.9) for non-agricultural workers. The daily rate for the other regions increased by PHP 350 (US$6.7) to PHP 450 (US$8.6) for non-agricultural workers.
However, the rates are still far from a living wage. In 2018, the National Economic and Development Authority of Philippines (NEDA) spokesperson said a household income of PHP 42,000 (US$804, or US$26.8 per day) is required for a family of five to subsist.
Shinya Iwai, IndustriALL South East Asia regional secretary said:

“Trade unions must be involved in determining the minimum wage. Social dialogue should be established not only in determining the minimum wage, but in all matters related to the lives of workers.”

Photo: E. Tuyay / ILO