March 11, 2018
QUEZON CITY – Minimum wage earners and informal sector workers fell further in deeper poverty three months into the increases in the prices of goods and services due to the implementation of the Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) excise tax on fuel and sweetened beverages and the increase in prices of government documents.
In a monitoring of prevailing prices by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC) released on February 9, 2018 , the real value or the buying power of the country’s 17 regions total average daily nominal minimum wage of P329.35 is now only P210 a day.
In Metro Manila, the country’s highest minimum wage, the buying power of P512 daily minimum pay fell to P357.29. On the other hand, the real value or purchasing power of the country’s lowest minimum pay of P265 a day in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is P152.12 a day.
As of March 1, 2018, the total purchasing power of workers for a month fell to P8,575. However, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the published standard amount needed by a family of five to survive within poverty line in 2015 is P9,064.
“We noticed the erosion of wage’s purchasing power move quickly downwards by 6% in just a matter of two months from January to February upon the effectivity of TRAIN. This extraordinary devaluation of monthly salary is significant to the informal sector workers earning less than P12,000 a month and the minimum wage earners receiving less than the same amount,” said Alan Tanjusay, spokesperson of labor group Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP).
“We urge government’s immediate and quality response to save and prevent these workers, who help build our economy and who are producers of goods and services to make our economy competitive, from falling through the cracks,” Tanjusay said.
With the inflation rate hitting 3.9 % by the end of February 2018, the ALU-TUCP expect it to rise by the end of the month in the light of impending increases in the cost of electricity, rice, fish, sardines, vegetables, condiments and prices of gasoline.
The March 15 meeting between ALU-TUCP and President Duterte on the group’s proposed P500 government monthly subsidy was moved to March 22.
The ALU-TUCP proposed to Duterte an amelioration program called Labor Empowerment and Assistance Program (LEAP). Under the program, minimum wage earners will received monthly a P500 worth of grocery items to help the workers cope with the rising cost of living caused by TRAIN.