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Jeep phaseout backs pay hike calls

PHILIPPINE STAR/MIGUEL DE GUZMAN

FARES and wages are contentious issues for workers and once traditional jeepneys are phased out and modern transport vehicles charge higher fares, labor groups demand salary hikes.

“There is a study saying fares could reach P40 (due to the transport modernization program). It calls for a wage increase,” Federation of Free Workers (FFW) President Jose “Sonny” G. Matula said on Wednesday.

The possible increase in minimum fares in public transportation “highlights the current call for a wage increase,” Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa Secretary-General Josua T. Mata told BusinessWorld through Viber.

“We not only think it is possible but very likely that the jeepney fare will increase to at least P40 and perhaps as much as P50 in five years,” IBON Foundation Executive Director Jose Enrique “Sonny” A. Africa told BusinessWorld in a separate Viber message. 

Mr. Mata said that the call for a wage increase is based on the need to compensate the purchasing power of workers amid inflation driven by food and transportation costs.

“Any increase in fares will be on top of many other increases in the price of food, rent, water, electricity, communications, and other basic needs,” Mr. Africa said.

With government firm on the April 30 deadline for franchise consolidation, operators of traditional jeepneys will be forced to modernize their units, costing them between P1.6 million to P2.4 million apiece.

They are urging the government to offer them assistance, but either way, the move is seen to drive up base fares in an attempt to recoup initial expenses for upgrading their units.

However, Department of Transportation (DoTr) Secretary Jamie J. Bautista in January said there is no basis for the “P50 minimum fare” increase, this is despite a discussion paper supporting Mr. Africa’s assertion. — Kenneth Christiane L. Basilio

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