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Wage board rep to push for increase

BY CHRYSEE G. SAMILLANO

The labor representative for Western Visayas to the Regional Wage Board is pushing for adequate wage increase for workers in Region 6.

The recent extraordinary increases in the prices of petroleum products is a big blow to the economic existence of the workers, Wennie Sancho, General Alliance of Workers Association (GAWA) secretary general, said yesterday.

Sancho said this “supervening condition” or event would contribute to the downward pressure on the rate of minimum wage earners, particularly for those who are at the lower end of the wage scale. The current minimum wage of P395 per day could no longer protect the vulnerable workers from the onslaught of price increases.

This economic crisis had disproportionately affected lower paid workers, thereby increasing wage inequality due to the continues erosion of the workers’ purchasing power.  Increase in wages will increase the workers’ purchasing power and would result to greater economic participation, as normally workers’ income are spent on domestic purchases, thereby pump priming the economy, Sancho said.

“Increasing wages is the most effective way of improving the lives of the workers and their families and the fastest means to equitably distribute the country’s fruits of production in line with our advocacy to emancipate the workers from the bondage of poverty by way of adequate salaries or compensation,” he said.

Sancho cited that the Labor Code Mandates that the minimum wage should be adequate and economically feasible to maintain the standard of living necessary for the health, efficiency and general well-being of the workers and their families. The 1987 Philippine Constitution provides that the State shall guarantee the right to a “living wage” so as to enable the family to live and maintain a decent standard of human existence beyond mere subsistence level and taking into account all the family’s physiological, social and other needs.

Unfortunately, the current level of minimum wage in Western Visayas is “scandalously short” of the basic needs of the workers and their families, much less all the basic needs of households, he said.

In a summary of the regional statistics presented by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) and National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) comparing inflation rate, consumer price index (CPI) and purchasing power of peso  (PPP) in August 2020 versus August 2021 shows that the P0.76 PPP in Western Visayas  means that as inflation causes the internal purchasing power of money to drop, the value of the peso in Region 6 during the preference period  is worth P0.76 compared to its value at P1 in base year 2012, Sancho said.

In order to afford a basket of goods valued at P100 in 2012, households in WV will need an additional P31.20 to buy the same basket of good in 2012, he said.

If normal wage cannot keep abreast with the pace of the price increases in petroleum products, basic commodities and services, what more with the real wage? Sancho asked.

Therefore, there is no other way at the moment to boost up the wages of the workers, except through a substantial and adequate wage increase in Western Visayas, he said.

“We are urging the Regional Wage Board to act with urgency. Time is of the essence. Labor will push for an adequate amount of wage increase,” Sancho added.*

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