Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume 3, Number 13 May 4 - 10, 2003 Quezon City, Philippines
official statistics show that workers can barely survive with the low salaries
they receive. It is ironic therefore that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
remains mum on calls for a wage hike even during the commemoration of Labor Day
last May 1.
DANILO ARAÑA ARAO
a Metro Aide, Ruby makes a living by sweeping the streets of Manila.
and other streetsweepers are used to waking up at dawn every day: they have to
report for work at 6 a.m. and go home at 2:30 p.m. Failing to report for work
thrice in a month could mean loss of job and a family’s future. They cannot
afford to be sick.
says a government worker with the item "Metro Aide I" receives a basic
monthly salary of P5,820 or US$110.75 (i.e., Salary Grade 1).
being told that the daily minimum wage in the National Capital Region is pegged
at P280 ($5.33), she does not express surprise that what they get is much lower.
"It's ironic that we clean the streets and get rid of the garbage, but we
are also treated as garbage by the Arroyo administration given our sorry
plight," she says.
they are treated like the filth they clean everyday is the main reason why
around 100 Metro Aide workers, most of them members of the Sandigan ng mga
Kawani at Manggagawa ng Mamamayan sa Kamaynilaan (SAKAMAY), joined the Labor Day
mobilization organized by the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU – May First Movement)
last May 1.
their Metro Aide uniforms, they deplored unjust working conditions and low wages
and expressed their solidarity with other workers in the public and private
of them brought their children along and also dressed them up like Metro Aide
workers. Even if the Arroyo administration has low regard for them, organized
Metro Aide workers apparently take pride in the nobility of their work and the
legitimacy of their struggle.
the country's minimum wage cannot assure survival of a family. Official
statistics show that the current minimum wage rates only account for 20% to 50%
of the required family living wage.
of February 2003, the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC) pegs the
family living wage at P556 ($10.58) in Metro Manila. For other regions, it
ranges from P415 or $7.90 (Western Visayas) to P711 or $13.53 (Autonomous Region
in Muslim Mindanao).
the daily minimum wage in Metro Manila is only P280 ($5.33), while that of other
regions varies from P140 or $2.66 (Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao or ARMM)
to P237 or $4.51 (Southern Tagalog).
is indeed ironic that the ARMM has the lowest daily minimum wage but still has
the highest living wage requirement. This results in a wage disparity of P571
($10,86) daily or P18,250 ($347.29) monthly. (See Table)
workers the likes of Ruby realize the need to struggle for just wages. "Our
call for a P125 ($2.38) daily wage for workers in the private sector and P3,000
($57.09) monthly for government employees should continue, along with our
denunciation of unjust working conditions like contractualization," she
For now, Ruby continues to sweep the streets of Manila. But like thousands of other organized workers, she also envisions a society that will be finally rid of the age-old filth that litters the corridors of power. Bulatlat.com