Ilonggo workers suffered P87 wage cut as of January

Inflation continues to erode the minimum wage of workers in Western Visayas, which necessitates a review and even increase of daily pays of laborers, according to a labor group. (A. Almacen photo)

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

Labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) said P87 has been eroded from the P450 minimum wage in the cities of Iloilo and Bacolod as a result of the continuous rise in prices.

“We call for a new round of wage hikes to recover the lost purchasing power of workers not just in Western Visayas but in the whole country due to the surge in inflation. We call on Congress to legislate a P100 across-the-board salary increase for all workers as relief from the shock of rising prices,” PM-Iloilo coordinator Mario Andon said.

Inflation in January 2023 reached 8.7%, higher than the 8.1% in December. The January inflation figure was the highest recorded since December 2008, which was in the context of the onset of the global financial crisis.

Notably, inflation is higher in areas outside Metro Manila. The consumer price index (CPI) for December 2022 in Metro Manila was 118.2 while in areas outside it was 122.3 according to statistical tables released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on Tuesday.

The CPI is an indicator of the change in the average retail prices of a fixed basket of goods and services commonly purchased by households relative to a base year.

In Region 6, the CPI reached 124.1, the third highest among the regions. PM’s demand for a wage hike is based on a computation by the group using the PSA data.

“The P450 minimum wage in Iloilo is actually just worth P363 by January 2023. P87 has been shaved off the real value of the minimum wage. Meaning, not only has the P55 minimum wage hike in June 2022 been effectively wiped out by runaway inflation, workers’ real wages have pushed back even further,” Andon explained.

He insisted that “Thus, we reiterate the call we made in May 2022—before the recent round of minimum wage hikes in June 2022 by different regional wage boards—for a P100 wage increase. This should be for all workers, not just those at the minimum salary level, since all have suffered from wage erosion.”

The group clarified that the wage hike demand is merely wage recovery.

“We are not yet even talking of workers claiming a just share in the fruits of their labor. From 2001 to 2016, real wages stagnated but labor productivity increased by 50% and the GDP doubled,” Andon said.

“Of course, employers will again create horror scenarios of closures and bankruptcy against the workers’ demand for a wage hike. They will cry that they are suffering from the economic crisis even though they monopolized the gains of the decade and half-long business boom. Not only does the government owe workers due to unabated inflation but also employers are obligated to share the wealth created by the labor of the working class,” he added.