By Joshua Corcuera
Yesterday, we observed Labor Day which we recognize annually on May 1. This day is dedicated to the workers, laborers, and employees who make society work.
Without doubt, our country would neither grow nor develop without the hard work of our laborers. From farmers and fishers whose harvest allows us to eat, to construction workers who make huge roads, bridges, and railroads possible, all laborers contribute to the growth of our country and social development would not be possible without them.
As large as their contributions may be, however, Filipino laborers are currently struggling with wages that are insufficient to meet their needs. The daily minimum wage in the Philippines varies per region, but the highest, which is in the National Capital Region, does not even reach PhP 600. To make matters worse, inflation is still higher than average as we approach the middle of the year, a problem that has remained unsolved for several months already.
As a result, the prices of basic needs and other necessities have increased. With a minimum wage of less than PhP 600 for a single day, the average laborer is struggling to make ends meet, especially those with mouths to feed given the higher cost of living brought by inflation.
The roots of labor are bitter, and so is the fruit of labor.
This is how one could possibly explain the unfortunate state that the ordinary worker is currently dealing with. Unsurprisingly, inflation is the social issue that concerns a majority of Filipinos according to various surveys in recent months. Likewise, more survey respondents disapprove of the actions being taken by the administration as far as addressing inflation is concerned.
From here, we can see that the impact of inflation among laborers is profound. Most of us ordinary people are trying to survive each and every day with a very tight budget. Some would even resort to just eating twice a day, lunch and dinner, just to make sure that they would still have some money left for another day.
Meanwhile, others bring baon to work so that they would no longer need to spend on food while at work. In doing so, they would be able to save around seventy to one hundred pesos, the common price of a lutong bahay food with rice in carinderias here in Manila.
Of course, there are cheaper food alternatives such as siomai rice and chicken skin with rice. These options can be purchased for fifty pesos at the highest. However, since these foods are salty, it is definitely not a healthy option when eaten every single day.
Despite working diligently, some laborers would still be forced to borrow from their connections resulting in accumulating debts which is an additional burden to deal with over time. Many have no choice but to incur liabilities just to pay for bills, for electricity and water in particular, as well as to purchase other necessities such as transportation fare, toiletries, and the like.
As we recently observed Labor Day, may we be ever aware of the struggles of the ordinary worker. More importantly, it is crucial to emphasize that workers deserve to be compensated fairly amid higher prices of commodities.