Wage hike needed asap to solve rising hunger and poverty

(F.A. Angelo)

Labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) called for a wage hike across the country in response to the rising incidence of hunger and poverty revealed in the latest Social Weather Station survey.

“A legislated P100 nationwide across-the-board wage hike is a key component of a set of solutions to worsening hunger and poverty in our country. Kailangan pa bang i-memorize yan,” stated Mario Andon, PM-Iloilo coordinator.

The latest Social Weather Station (SWS) survey showed that hunger incidence in December 2022 rose to 11.8% which is equivalent to 3 million families, up from 11.3% in October 2022 or 2.89 million families experiencing involuntary hunger.

The same SWS survey also uncovered that poverty incidence climbed to 51% from 49% which translates to 12.9 million families rating themselves as poor, an increase of 300,000 families from October to December 2022.

“It is definitely not rocket science to understand that increasing household incomes by raising the wages of family breadwinners will mitigate hunger and poverty. Wage hikes together with ayuda and forms of social protection like universal pensions and employment guarantees will radically decrease hunger and poverty in the face of a cost of living crisis expressed by runaway prices of onions, eggs and other essential necessities,” Andon explained.

He added that “The only roadblock to a salary increase is employer resistance and government insensitivity. Their argument that wage hikes only benefit formal workers to the detriment of informal workers who are the vast majority is fake news. Research by the ILO and others find that minimum wage hikes have negligible effect on unemployment and instead have a lighthouse effect. Meaning, minimum wage hikes increase the wages even of the informally employed since it becomes socially unacceptable to pay lower salaries.”

PM said P75 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,” declared Andon.

Inflation in December 2022 reached 8.1%, slightly higher than the 8.0% in November. Notably, inflation is higher in areas outside Metro Manila.

The consumer price index for December 2022 in Metro Manila was 116.6 while areas outside it was 120.1 according to statistical tables released today by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

PM’s demand for a wage hike is based on a computation by the group using the PSA data.