BY CHRYSEE G. SAMILLANO
A manifesto seeking adequate and substantial wage increase for workers in Western Visayas was recently issued by Wennie Sancho, labor representative to the Regional Wage Board.
In his letter to Department of Labor and Employment head Sixto Rodriguez dated March 7, Sancho said the workers’ manifesto is an embodiment of their miserable plight brought about by the escalating increase in the prices of basic goods and services and the skyrocketing lift off in the prices of petroleum products.
Sancho said the labor sector in Western Visayas is considering to file a consolidated petition for a P100 wage increase per day, if needed. But for now, they are urging the Regional Wage Board to act with dispatch on this primordial concern.
He said the nominal wage of a worker in Western Visayas is P395.00 per day, but it could only buy goods and services worth P300.20 which is the real wage.
A minimum wage earner is losing about P94.80 or P95.00 per day due to the erosion of his purchasing power. In 26 working days, this would be about P2,464.80 per month. A lower value on the purchasing power of the peso denotes a diminished capacity of workers to have access to basic goods and services needed by their families. The lower the purchasing power, the higher the increase in wages to cover up for the lost valueshould be, Sancho said.
The 10 percent erosion on the value of the purchasing power of the nominal wage can be used as a warning signal to review whether the prevailing minimum wage still serves its purpose amidst the higher proportion of expenses, he said.
Sancho said that based on the Rules of Procedures, the Regional Wage Board can issue a wage order only once in a given year. There was no wage increase for the last two years in 2020 and 2021. The last Wage Order No. RBVI-25 was issued on November 26, 2019. Within the 12-month period, no petition for wage increase may be entertained except when there is a “supervening condition”. This is an indication or signal to the Boards to mobilize the power of minimum wage fixing even in the absence of a formal petition for wage increase.
While the supervening condition is to be determined by the Board and confirmed by National Wages and Productivity Commission, all economic indicators are now pointing clearly that indeed there is a “supervening condition” not only in Western Visayas, but acrossthe nation. It is imperative that a wage increase of P95.00 to P100 per day should be given to the workers in Western Visayas in the face of economic adversities, he said.
“No amount of rhetoric from our government economists and statisticians could convince the labor sector that our economy is on the road to recovery. On the contrary, the unabated increases in the prices of petroleum products, rice, water, electric rates and other basic goods and services, let alone the demand of the transport sector to increase fare hike, are strong indicators that it would take a long time before we could take off from this economic recession or raise ourselves from the quagmire of economic poverty,” Sancho said.
Beyond being a measure that will give immediate economic relief for the workers in Region 6, this manifesto for wage increase is an issue of social justice. Therefore, the call for an adequate and substantial wage increase, is a call for social justice and this call must be answered by the Regional Wage Board by rendering a just and equitable decision, in the name of social justice, he added.*