Labor group wants to raise daily wage in Davao to P814

Contributed photo
Contributed photo

DUE to the cost-of-living caused by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the series of oil price hikes, a labor confederation is lobbying for a P418 wage hike in Davao Region.

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) on Thursday, March 25, filed a petition before the Davao Region-Regional Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) for an increase in the daily minimum wage in the region.

If approved, the current daily minimum wage of P396 will become P814.

"Wages were set to the cost-of-living three years ago. The wages are no longer able to cope with current cost-of-living. The net increase of petroleum products from January to March 22 of this year is P16 for diesel, P15 for gasoline and P14 for kerosene. Food prices are surging. Power costs are climbing. Our wages are ridiculously low and are now setting the stage for massive malnutrition and hunger,” TUCP president Raymond Democrito Mendoza said in a press release.

The labor center said that poverty incidence in the region remains prevalent due to low wages and income of workers and their families.

According to the 2021 First Semester Poverty Incidence Among Families released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), poverty incidence was 7.9 percent in Davao del Sur; 13.6 percent in Davao del Norte; 24.5 percent in Davao Oriental; 31.7 percent in Davao Occidental; and 21.8 percent in Davao de Oro.

Based in the 2021 government data, TUCP said P13,619 per month is the poverty threshold for the region, compared with the current minimum wage of only P10,296 per month, with a purchasing power of only P9,242.37.

“Our minimum wage earners and their families have already fallen below the poverty level even before the ongoing Ukraine-Russia conflict and the succeeding oil price hikes that are now pushing the prices of basic goods and services. The fact that our minimum wage earners have become the newly poor is a blatant injustice that must be seriously and urgently addressed by the government,” Mendoza said.

In response to some individuals and groups that wage increase is not timely given the possible roll back in the prices of oil products, the group debunked their position, citing the recent projection of the International Energy Agency (IEA) that there would be an oil supply deficit of three million barrels a day due to the Ukrainian-Russian war which will continue to push oil prices upwards in the global market.

TUCP said that although there could be a possibility of a temporary roll back of oil prices, the cost of oil will continue to increase in the long-term because of the international supply problem.

They added that these unabated increases in oil prices will surely push the costs of basic goods and services up beyond the reach of our minimum wage earners and their families.

“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. We are deeply concerned that with the looming price hikes in the basic commodities, including electricity and transport fares, our workers and their families could not survive this time and that is unacceptable to us,” Mendoza said.

TUCP also said that poor workers and their families were affected more by the pandemic and natural calamities that recently hit the country because they do not have savings to stay afloat given their meager income. As to the issue that wage increase would hit the micro, small and medium enterprises and that they could go under because of additional labor costs, TUCP said that the government has allotted funds to help those enterprises.

TUCP said that even in 2020 during the first year and the height of the pandemic, the region’s economy still grew by 3.6 percent. The region enjoyed Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) with annual growth rates of 11.8 percent in 2016, 11 percent in 2017, 12.4 percent in 2018, and 9.6 percent in 2019.

TUCP said with the current minimum wage of P396 in Davao Region, residents can only afford a measly P14.48 per meal, per member of the family which is P46.69 lower compared P61.17 per meal per person estimated by the Ateneo Policy Center using the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Pinggang Pinoy model, and the March 2019 PSA Media Service Market Price of Selected Commodities.

“What kind of food can be bought with P14.48? Do our workers deserve just to eat nutritionally deficient foods while they continue breaking their backs to sustain and expand the economy?” Mendoza asked.

TUCP spokesperson Alan Tanjusay told SunStar Davao in a phone interview on Friday, March 25, that their group did not file for wage increase for two years when the pandemic hit the entire world.

"Sinasabi kasi ng batas na every year, dapat may wage increase. Pero dahil sa pandemic, economic, and health crisis, hindi nag-file ng wage increase petition ang TUCP dahil naiintindihan namin ang kalagayan ng manggagawa at negosyante," Tanjusay said.

He also stressed that the wage increase is their way of showing the government that the amount is the standard wage for every Filipino to have a decent living.

As of now, Tanjusay said the RTWPB has yet to call for a public consultation, which is required by law before any wage increase would be approved.

He said they are hoping that the board would grant their increase.

SunStar Davao is still trying to reach out to RTWPB for their side on this matter.

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