The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) is pushing for an P820 minimum daily wage in Central Luzon, petitioning the Regional Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) in Region III for a P400 increase.
The TUCP said wages were set to the cost-of-living almost three years ago when the regional wage board granted a measly P20 increase in 2019, which had been long dissipated by the succeeding price increases since that year.
“We are now demanding the wage board to do its duty to set a minimum wage that can really meet the basic needs of workers and their families in Region 3. The current P420 daily minimum wage in Central Luzon, which is already low, is only P368.10 in real terms. How can workers and their families cope with skyrocketing prices of foods and commodities with that small income?” TUCP President Raymond Mendoza said.
Region 3 covers Bulacan, Bataan, Pampanga, Zambales, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac and Aurora.
TUCP said that inflation hit a high at 4 percent in March 2022 which pushed the cost-of-living further upwards. This year, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas projected that inflation will hit 5.1 percent.
“With only low wages, our workers and their families are suffering from hunger and malnutrition. Just walk around working class communities and you will see stunted children. As a result of hunger and malnutrition, we now have 3.64 million stunted children according to the DOST whose physical and cognitive abilities could be permanently impaired and their future gravely jeopardized,” said Mendoza.
TUCP said that with the already high prices of food and other essential items, the measly income means each member of a family would get only P15 per meal.
TUCP said minimum wage earners and their families have already fallen below the poverty level.
Based on 2021 government data, P16,226 a month is the poverty threshold for Region III, compared with the current minimum wage of only P10, 920 a month, with purchasing power of only P9,570.55.
“Our workers in Region 3 need wage adjustments now. Poverty incidence among families in different parts of Central Luzon is in double digits except in Pampanga with 6.2 percent poverty rate. Based on the first semester of 2021 data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority, poverty incidence in Aurora is 24 percent; 12.8 percent in Bataan; 14.9 percent in Bulacan; 17 percent in Nueva Ecija; 13.2 percent in Tarlac; and 22 percent in Zambales,” he added.