P516 minimum wage in Metro Manila pushed

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Friday, March 16, 2012

MANILA (2nd Update, 6:16 p.m.) -- A workers group on Friday filed a petition asking the regional wage board to add P90 to the daily basic pay of workers in Metro Manila, saying there are already extra-ordinary and supervening events warranting salary increase.

Once approved, the daily minimum pay for workers in the National Capitol Region (NCR) will increase to P516, petitioner Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) said.

In its petition, the TUCP asked the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board in NCR to strongly consider the continuing increases in the prices of basic commodities triggered by a series of price hike of gas and diesel, liquefied petroleum gas, automatic adjustments in rates of electricity and other utilities in studying their petition.

"The level of minimum wage needed to restore the purchasing power of workers' wages and to give them a share in the region’s economic development should be P90," said the petition.

"If workers' wages have to keep up with the rise in prices and if workers will be compensated for their contributions to the improvement of the regional economy, P90 should now be given and awarded as the correct daily minimum wage increase for agricultural and non-agricultural workers," it said.

The labor group added that the petition should be granted across-the-board as not only floor wage earners need the pay increase but also other employees.

"All workers in the region, regardless whether they receive minimum wages or higher, are subject to the same prices in the market and the same increases in prices of commodities," the TUCP said.

In justifying the amount they are asking, the petition noted that since June 2011 to February 2012, the Consumer Price Index (CPI), or the average prices of goods and services consumed by a typical Filipino family, rose from 121.4 to 122.9 — which is equivalent to P5.28 (P426 x 0.0124 = P5.28).

The nine-percent increase in consumer prices as a result of the further prices of oil, LPG, automatic price adjustments in electricity in the months ahead, they added, should make the wage board decide to add another P38.34 to the current minimum pay (P426 x .09 = P38.34).

The group also asked the wage board for a mere P2 per day share of the growth in Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) for the past 23 years, since 1989, as equity supplement, which is equivalent to Php46 (Php2 x 23 years = P46).

"Overall, the TUCP is asking the board to add a mere P90 (P5.28 + P38.34 + P46) to the minimum basic pay of workers working in Metro Manila," TUCP president Democrito Mendoza said.

Expressing support for TUCP’s move is fellow labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), which called on the administration of President Benigno Aquino III to remove the VAT on oil products as an immediate measure to reduce prices.

Renato Magtubo, PM chair, said the government must seriously consider demands for the removal of VAT on oil to mitigate the impact of oil price hikes.

The government collects 12 percent in every liter of oil products as Malacañang repeatedly dismissed calls to lift the VAT, which may translate to savings of P6-P9 per liter of gasoline and diesel consumption according to militant Bayan Muna party-list.

“But the fact is, if we take it away, if we temporarily suspend imposing the VAT on oil, there will be revenues to be lost, there will be programs, which could lose funding, and there are people who could lose benefits from those programs,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said last week.

Data from the Department of Energy showed gasoline prices stood at P54.35 per liter to P61.02 per liter, with a common price of P57.75 as of March 9.

“Raising the consumers’ capacity to buy is also an option. Thus, a new wage order at this point in time must be issued by the government,” Magtubo said.

Last year, the TUCP was also the one that petitioned the NCR wage board for an addition of P75 in the minimum basic pay of workers in NCR.

Subsequently, the RTWPB-NCR granted Php22 in the form of emergency cost of living allowance (Cola), thus raising the minimum wage in Metro Manila to P426.

Last Thursday, the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC) nixed any wage adjustment in the basic salary of NCR workers until May 26 or when the one-year ban expires, unless there is a supervening condition. (AMN/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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