The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) on Tuesday filed a petition for a P428 increase in the daily minimum wages for workers in Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon (Calabarzon) before the Regional Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB).
The labor group said wages were set to the cost of living more than 4 years ago when the regional wage board granted a measly P14 up to P21.50 increases in different provinces, cities, and municipalities in 2018, 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 minimum wages that can really meet the basic needs of workers and their families in Region 4-A,” TUCP President Raymond Mendoza said.
“The current P303.00, P317.00, P373.00, and P400.00 daily minimum wages in Calabarzon, which are already low, in real terms is only P267.91, P277.22, P329.80, and P353.05, respectively. How can workers and their families cope with skyrocketing prices of foods and commodities with such ridiculously low wages?” he asked.
TUCP said inflation hit a high at 4% in March 2022, which pushed the cost of living upwards. This year, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas projected that inflation will hit 5.1%.
“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 with the already high prices of food and other essential items, the measly income of workers can only accord them and their families with nutritionally deficient survival meals.
TUCP said that currently, the take-home pay of a minimum wage earner in Calabarzon ranges from a meager P278.57 a day to P370.46 after the government-mandated deductions. From these very low incomes, a paltry P11 to P14 per meal can be allocated per member of the family, it added.
“What kind of food can be bought by P14 nowadays? The wage board must act swiftly and grant our wage petition immediately to save our workers and their families from total starvation. Aanhin pa ang damo kung patay na ang kabayo?” Mendoza asked.
“Workers continued to give and sacrifice even with their declining health and strength due to poor nutrition for the sake of regional and national economic development. Now that they are on the brink of starvation, the government through the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and wage boards must immediately intervene on behalf of our poor minimum wage earners and their families,” he added.