By Francis Allan L. Angelo
A labor group filed a P100 wage hike petition before the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB).
United Labor–Western Visayas contended that the current P450 minimum daily wage can no longer meet the basic needs of workers and their families because of faster inflation or rise in the prices of goods and services.
The current P450 daily wage took effect after the RTWPB issued on June 5, 2022 Wage Order No. RBVI-26.
United Labor-WV founded its petition on the Constitutional provision that all workers “shall be entitled to security of tenure, humane conditions of work, and a living wage.”
Citing an IBON Foundation study, the living wage for a family of five members is at least P1,161, the group added.
“The Petition to increase the minimum wage stems from the need of minimum-wage earners to recover the lost value of their wages, cope with the rising cost of living, and afford them dignified lives,” the petition read.
United Labor-WV also pointed to recent government statistics to highlight how inflation has eroded the daily wages of workers.
The regional inflation rate has grown steadily from 4.6 percent in January 2022 to 10.3 percent a year after.
In Iloilo City and Bacolod City alone, inflation rose from 4.2 percent in January 2022 to 12.4 percent in January 2023, and 3.9 percent in January 2022 to 12.1 percent in January 2023, respectively.
“The current Region VI nominal wage of P450.00 is only equivalent to P363.00 in real wages, much lower than the previous regional minimum wage of P395.00,” the group claimed in the petition.
United Labor-WV added that the poverty threshold of Western Visayas is P11,284 per month for a family of five.
“At P450 per day, a minimum wage worker will only earn P9,900 pesos per month for 22 days of work which is below the poverty threshold mark of 2023. This is a clear indication of “wage starvation,” it said.
As a form of immediate relief, United Labor-WV said it is imperative that the minimum daily wage in Region 6 be raised to P500 across the board, even if figures point to P1,161 as the ideal minimum family living wage.
JUST, PROPER, AND REASONABLE
United Labor-WV spokesperson Mario Andon said the P550 immediate increase in minimum daily wage is only just, proper, and reasonable considering that the same is merely 47 percent of the minimum daily family living wage needed.
“It will also help address, even if only partly, the impact of extremely high inflation in the region. RTWPB-VI has issued only six wage orders since 2017. These wage orders set daily minimum wages that are far below the daily living wage needed by workers and their families. The increase of the daily minimum wage to P550, as an immediate relief, would afford workers to recover the lost value of their wages due to supervening conditions caused by high inflation rates both from the national and regional level,” Andon said.
Andon said P87 has been eroded from the P450 minimum wage of Western Visayas workers as of the January inflation of 8.7%. Inflation in Western Visayas is higher than in the National Capital Region.
The group also pointed out that the P55 increase in the daily minimum wage in Region 6 back in 2022, which resulted in a daily minimum wage of P450.00, was merely a 14 percent increase in the then subsisting daily minimum wage, compared to the 13.5 percent inflation rate in Region 6 for the year 2022.
Notably, the prices of basic commodities and services, as well as fuel and transportation costs have significantly increased since then.