April 22, 2017
QUEZON CITY – Despite the country’s consistent high economic growth, thirty million short-term contractual, minimum-waged earners remained a working poor as the value of purchasing power of their daily wage remained below the standard poverty threshold level, the country’s biggest labor group labor group the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) said yesterday.
However, these minimum-waged earners who helped built the country’s high economic wealth are living way below standard poverty line. Their chances to get out of poverty by way of job regularization and security of tenure on employment is forever shut by the recent issuance of Department Order 174.
Rather than prohibiting contractualization, DO 174 of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) ‘legalize’ and perpetuate contractualization. Aside from having no security of tenure because their work for less than 6 months, contractual workers are forever tied to minimum wage.
The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) set the Poverty Threshold Level or the standard amount needed by a family of five for them to survive in a month in the year 2015 is P9,064 or P393 a day.
In a monitoring made by the ALU-TUCP on the behavior of workers’ purchasing power vis-a-vis cost of living, the real value of Endo workers’ nominal P491 daily minimum wage in Metro Manila fell to P361.30 in January 2017 which is equivalent to P8,671.20 a month, according to data from the country’s wage board the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC).
The average real wage amount in regions outside National Capital Region, on one hand, is P250 a day or equivalent to P6,000 per month.
Thus, the buying powers of minimum wages P361 in Metro Manila and P250 in regions outside NCR are inadequate compared with the P393 amount needed by a family to survive in a day.
It means, minimum-waged workers needs least P32 more and P143 more on top of their daily pay for workers within and outside Metro Manila respectively to stay within the threshold and considered not poor.
“There has been no inclusive growth for MWEs because the buying power of minimum wage is going downward amid rising prices of basic necessities and cost of services. Because they have no savings and inadequate government support programs, minimum waged workers are so vulnerable that if they get sick, if they get late or absent from their work, or any small price hike shocks, they fall deeper and deeper into poverty,” said ALU-TUCP spokesman Alan Tanjusay.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) estimated there are 7 out of 10 of the 43 million workers are employed as contractuals working in less than six-month short-term employment receiving mandated minimum wage.
Tanjusay said the ALU-TUCP offer various pragmatic measures towards helping workers cope with growing inflation. He said government should ban contractualization, provide a minimal cash amount by way of monthly subsidy while reinforcing government’s enforcement of compliance to labor and price regulations.
Employers, on the other hand, could help their employees cope with poverty by voluntarily providing across-the-board wage increase and implement in-house programs providing their employees with cash and non-cash benefits, Tanjusay said.
Government define poverty threshold as the minimum income required to meet food and non-food needs of a family of five including clothing, housing, transportation, health and educational expenses.