The six percent gross domestic product (GDP) growth last year was not impressive at all as it failed to arrest the inflation rate that resulted in a loss of P116.61 real daily minimum wage of workers in Metro Manila, according to Nagkaisa, an alliance of 49 labor federations in the country.
Data obtained from the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC) showed that Metro Manila workers receive P481 per day, making them the highest paid workers in the country as of 2016.
The lowest rate of P250 per day goes to workers at the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Alan Tanjusay, spokesman for Nagkaisa and the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), said it cannot be denied that the “real” daily rate of workers in Metro Manila (National Capital Region or NCR) was cut by P116.61 per day to P364.39 per day from P481 per day.
This means that NCR workers have been losing P116.61 per day because the actual value of their monthly rate of P481.00 is P364.39 since January this year, Tanjusay, also the advocacy officer of the Associated Labor Unions (ALU), explained.
Metro Manila workers, therefore, are the biggest victims of inflation, he said.
According to Tanjusay, the culprit in the P364.39 “real daily wage” of the Metro Manila workers is the “inflation rate.”
Economists define inflation as the continued increase of the price level of goods and services being created for a particular period of time.
The second most affected by inflation are workers of Region 7 with P110.89 loss of their minimum daily rate from P353 to P242.11 as disclosed by NWPC, Tanjusay said.
This is followed by Region 10 with a loss of P110.29 per day from P318 to P207.71.
The inflation rate gives the ARMM workers’ rate of P250.00 per day with an actual or real value of only P157.43, Tanjusay said.
Thus, the autonomous region’s workers have been losing P92.57 per day, he pointed out.
Tanjusay also explained that the “real wage is the wage in terms of the amount of goods and services that can be bought.”
Once the price level increases, the buyers could only buy fewer units of goods because the value of their money has been reduced.
The prices of goods and services in the country remain high despite a slump in the prices of petroleum products as affected by reduction of oil prices in the Middle East.
Tanjusay said the abrupt and undisturbed fall of the actual value of the daily minimum wage is extremely disappointing because “[t]he lost value of the daily wage can buy them a kilo of imported, first-class, deliciously fragrant rice and three variants of pagpag [food recycled from dumps]for one good meal the entire family [has]not eaten for years. But if we look at the entire value lost in a month, it can cover house rent, water and electricity, or tuition.”
The NWPC data have only validated the conclusion of the independent research group Ibon Foundation that there is a problem with the quality of employment in the country today in terms of the actual minimum wage rate or renumeration.
Ibon said the salary of the employed workers both in the government and private sectors is not enough to buy their daily needs.
Its research showed that a worker needs a minimum of P1,080.00 per day to be able to describe their job as “decent work.”
The March 11 data of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that out of 67.153 million workforce, the 40.047 million who are employed get a minimum monthly rate of P250.00, from P481.00,
The real wage rate could be used as yardstick of economic status because it directly affects the purchasing power of the salaried workers.
According to Tanjusay, TUCP-Nagkaisa found out that the country’s poverty threshold for the first quarter of 2016 is pegged at P9,576 per month for a family of five or P319.20 per person each month–or to be exact, P63.84 per person per day or P21.28 per person per meal for each day.
When compared with the Metro Manila wage level, the real daily wage is equivalent to P9,474.14 a month, he said.
Therefore, the monthly salary rate’s capacity to buy goods and services for a family is P315.80 every day or P63.16 per person a day or P21.00 a person per meal per day, Tanjusay added.
He argued that “the low value of wage is what drives thousands of workers every day to work abroad despite the social cost of family separation. Other reasons are the lack of employment opportunities, the jobs-skills mismatch and the government’s passive enforcement of employers’ compliance [with the]minimum wage [law].”
“We urge government to make growth more inclusive by equitably sharing our country’s wealth by consistent enforcement of labor laws, stronger enforcement and regulation on prices of goods (food) and cost of services [water, electricity and transport fares], give more subsidies and cut taxes. We ask employers, on one hand, to pay it forward in sharing their profits by increasing motu propio the salary of their workers,” Tanjusay said.
He added that Nagkaisa of which TUCP is a leading federation presented a number of proposals to President Benigno Aquino 3rd last May 2015 like the P2,000 monthly cash subsidy, income tax cut, unemployment insurance and return of government subsidy to mass transport trains, but the President has not approved even a single one of them.
With the outright denial of the labor sector’s demand, Tanjusay said “[i]t looks like this race to the bottom wage problem will be passed on to the next elected President in July.”
Aquino is officially scheduled to transfer the reins of state power at 12:00 noon on June 30.