Meager Wages Highlight Need for a New Economic Policy

This “growth model” never delivered the promised growth to workers and the working majority of the Philippine population. Reassembling of parts to make consumer goods as electronic gadgets, clothes, toys, shoes, vehicle parts, and lately business processes outsourcing for the consumption of advanced capitalist countries and a small portion of the local population, have never sustainably developed the economy. Worse, in times of capitalist crisis the Filipino workers are “in effect bearing the burden of adjustment,” as the unchanged minimum wage in the Philippines since September 2008 showed, according to IBON.

All the past Philippine governments’ economic model only resulted to record unemployment and dismally poor wages, contributing to the increasing poverty especially in the past decade under Arroyo. These, said IBON, are “solid reasons for a wage hike of a decent level.” That means a wage hike to approximate the estimated family living wage which, according to NWPC itself was already P917 ($19.645) in Metro Manila in September 2008.

But as the KMU pointed out, the government’s recent wage order only showed that “It is in the nature of regional wage boards to give workers only meager and sporadic wage increases.”

The Philippine economy’s place in the sun under the so-called globalization has only made the country profitable to foreign investors and its local partners, while it forces workers to bear shrinking wage hikes and rights repression.

The Arroyo regime is the most recent and stark example of the folly of the Philippine government’s economic “growth” model. According to IBON the supposed momentum of 36 straight quarters of economic growth under Arroyo has been accompanied by an unprecedented flattening, over nearly a decade, of real wages. The outgoing Arroyo administration has the “triple distinction of presiding over the fastest economic growth, highest unemployment and lowest wage increase over its term since the Marcos dictatorship.”

The pittance of the P22 wage “hike” and the workers’ over-all real wages today highlight the pressing need to shift from a foreign investment and export led growth model to a more equitable wage-consumption-and domestically driven development path. (

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  1. Even if they increase it to P500/day for a minimum earner, still it is not enough for daily needs.

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