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Major union calls on gov’t to revisit P500 worker subsidy

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wage protest
PHILSTAR

TRADE UNION Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) Party-list Representative Raymond C. Mendoza said the government needs to revisit the union’s proposal for a P500 monthly subsidy for minimum-wage workers as a temporary cushion for the rising prices of goods.

In a statement on Thursday, the legislator said the subsidy is needed since increase in minimum wages is inadequate.

“We insist that government revisit our proposal that government provide a P500 subsidy for 4 million minimum wage earners registered with the Social Security System. This can be made a temporary emergency measure until inflation is brought down to a manageable 4%,” he said.

The Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) proposed the P500 subsidy for minimum wage earners when the labor coalition met with President Rodrigo R. Duterte earlier this year.

In 2018, 16 regions issued daily minimum wage hikes of between P8 and P56. The most recent wage increases were from the National Capital Region (NCR) at P25; Cagayan Valley (Region II) at P10; and MIMAROPA (Region IV-B consisting of Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan) at P12 to P20.

Mr. Mendoza said the wage increases are not enough to secure workers amid rising inflation, which was at 6.7% in October.

“Regional minimum wages cannot even buy the daily food requirements for a family of five. It is apparent that the regional wage boards are insensitive to the real hardships of workers and their families as their approved increases in basic pay and allowance will not be enough even for the basic food requirements of workers and their families, “ said the TUCP representative.

Mr. Mendoza filed House Bill 7805 or the proposed “Living Wage Act of 2018” in June which called for a P320 across-the-board wage increase for all regions.

Mr. Mendoza said granting a subsidy for minimum wage earners is one of the ways that the government can help prevent “industrial unrest and instability” since wage increases in the regions are too meager.

The TUCP Representative said, “Workers (get) no adequate compensation for what their income lost in value and no increase recognizing their valuable contribution to economic productivity and GDP growth.”

He also cited data from the World Bank which states labor productivity in the Philippines “increased at 3.5% annually from 2004 to 2014.”

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the 2017 rate for labor productivity was the highest in eight years at 8.4%.

Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello has said that he has recommended to the President a subsidy program for minimum wage earners which will span three years.

The subsidy proposal, which will be in partnership with the Department of Finance (DoF) and the Department of Social Welfare, has yet to be approved by the President. In the program, 4.1 million minimum wage earners will receive a P200/month subsidy from the government or P2,400 per year. — Gillian M. Cortez