Cebu labor groups demand P1,200 'living wage'

CEBU. Over a thousand protesters from multi-sectoral groups attend the Labor Day rally at Fuente Circle on Osmeña Boulevard in Cebu City on Wednesday, May 1, 2024.
CEBU. Over a thousand protesters from multi-sectoral groups attend the Labor Day rally at Fuente Circle on Osmeña Boulevard in Cebu City on Wednesday, May 1, 2024. (Photo by Kaiser Jan Fuentes)

CEBU labor groups took to the streets to voice their grievances and demand a P1,268 "living wage" rather than just the minimum wage in a Labor Day rally on Wednesday, May 1, 2024.

They added that employers have the capacity to adhere to it, citing the recent economic performance results of Central Visayas, which was tagged as the "fastest-growing" economy in the country.

Jaime Paglinawan, a labor leader from Alyansa sa mga Mamumuo sa Sugbo-Kilusang Mayo Uno, emphasized that the government must ensure adequate compensation for people to survive daily and live comfortably, saying this is specified in the law.

Article 8, Section 3 of the 1987 Constitution explicitly states that the State shall guarantee the right of all workers to job security, humane working conditions, and a living wage. All workers are entitled to this as a fundamental right.

Living wage

Paglinawan said that citing non-profit research group Ibon Foundation's data, Central Visayas' family living should be P1,268 daily, which is P800 short of the region's minimum daily wage.

Ibon Foundation's data on the family living wage took into consideration the minimum wage data from the National Wages and Productivity Commission and the March 2024 inflation data from the Philippine Statistics Authority.

The NWPC defines the family living wage as the income needed to provide for the cost of living, which includes all food and non-food requirements, with sufficient allowance for savings and investments for social security.

A living wage is an income necessary to cover basic needs such as food, housing, healthcare, and other essential expenses, allowing an individual or family to maintain a decent standard of living.

Paglinawan said that the minimum wage is the mandated lowest wage rate that employers can pay their employees for labor performed, which he said is currently not enough.

In September 2023, the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board Central Visayas (RTWPB 7) announced Wage Order ROVII-24, which implemented a P33 wage increase in the private sector in Central Visayas, effective last October 1.

As a result of this regulation, the minimum daily wage in Class A areas rose to P468 from P435; in Class B areas, P430 from P397; and in Class C areas, P420 from P387.

Class A covers the cities of Carcar, Cebu, Danao, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Naga, Talisay, and the municipalities of Compostela, Consolacion, Cordova, Liloan, Minglanilla, and San Fernando.

Cities not covered under Class A fall under Class B, while municipalities not in Class A or B are categorized as Class C.

For agriculture and non-agriculture establishments with fewer than 10 workers, the daily minimum wage now ranges from P415 to P458, depending on the area classification.

Wage hike

Paglinawan said that they are supporting the separate bills providing for P150 and P750 across-the-board wage recovery increase in the salary rates of employees and workers in the private sector across regions.

"Sa tanang paningkamot karon, alang sa umento sa suholan amo nang gibitbit para matagaan og alibyo atong mga mamumuo, at the same time sa makabuhing suholan adunay dignidad ang pamilya sa mga mamumuo, dili ang mamuo ray mabuhi sa matag adlaw.

(With all efforts being made now, we carry the demand for an increase in wages to provide relief to our workers, and at the same time, for wages that allow dignity for workers' families, not just for workers to survive each day.)

Capable

Paglinawan said that employers can comply with the wage hike, pointing to the recent economic performance results of Central Visayas, which earned the designation as the "fastest-growing" economy in the country.

SunStar Cebu reported last April 25, that the Philippine Statistics Authority Central Visayas said the region achieved a growth rate of 7.3 percent in 2023, making it the fastest-growing economy among all 17 regions.

Additionally, it remains the largest economy in the Visayas and Mindanao, with a gross regional domestic product (GRDP) estimated at P1.381 trillion, up from P1.287 trillion in 2022.

Rally

Additionally, several groups, particularly led by labor organizations Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (Sentro), Partido Manggagawa (PM), and the Sugboanong Mamumuo Nagkahiusa Alang sa Living Wage (Sana All), joined a protest rally.

They initiated the rally at different points and commenced marching as early as 6 a.m. Organizers anticipated over a thousand protesters coming from multi-sectoral groups.

The groups gathered at Fuente Circle on Osmeña Boulevard in Cebu City for a short program. During the program, they expressed their support for pending wage increases in legislation, including the national standardized wage. (KJF)

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