26 February 2010
With just 125 days before June 30, the Constitutionally-mandated inauguration of a new president, labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno and Anakpawis Partylist today issued a challenge to all presidentiables running for the May 10 elections: push for a legislated P125 wage increase nationwide for workers.
In its 9 year in office, Arroyo has snubbed a legislated substantial increase and evaded it through the use of regional wage boards, which has spawned very measly and sparse wage increases, the biggest of which is P20.
“In its nine-year rule, the US-Arroyo regime oversaw unprecedented drastic increases in the prices of basic commodities, yet it also ensured that workers’ wages remain stagnant. What we need right now is a P125 legislated nationwide wage hike that will ease our stomachs at the very least,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.
“While the presidentiables have been busy talking to businessmen and business groups and making concrete promises to them, the Filipino workers and people have yet to hear concrete promises with regard to our condition. They have been promising ‘change’ in the abstract. A legislated wage increase nationwide is one of the changes that we really need,” added Labog.
Soaring prices, stagnant wages
Using government data, the labor group compared the prices of basic commodities in 2001 to those in 2009. In 2001, one kilo of regular-milled rice was at P18; now, it’s at P30-40. In 2001, the average pump price of diesel per liter was at P12.; now it’s at P34. In 2001, the price of an 11-kilo tank of LPG was at P192; now, it’s at P630.
KMU also compared the minimum wage in the National Capital Region in 2001 and 2009, including increases in the cost of living allowance. In 2001, the amount was at P213-250; now it’s only at P345-382. On the other hand, the estimated cost of living for a family of five was at P509; now it’s at P917.
“It’s clear that our wages have some catching up to do. The US-Arroyo regime through its regional wage boards granted increases in cost of living allowances in amounts – less than P10 in many cases – which ordinary people can give to beggars. With such measly amount, how can workers cope with drastic increases in the prices of basic commodities which this regime has become notorious for?” asked Labog.
“Our fight for a P125 wage increase is not only a fight for immediate economic relief. It is a fight to be recognized as humans, we who contribute our labor and lives to improving society. It is a fight to have a fair share of the fruits of our labor which our employers have been enjoying for themselves while our families suffer unbearable poverty and hunger,” Labog said.
Reference: Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU Chairperson