Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Saturday, January 15, 2005

P125 daily-wage hike OK’d by House panel


The House Committee on Labor and Employment has approved for plenary debates the long-pending proposal granting daily wage earners in the private sector a P125-across-the-board salary increase.

Majority Leader Prospero Nograles said Friday the measure is included in the urgent reform measures that would be given priority by the House of Representatives.

“It’s not only tax measures we are passing here. We also take into account the plight of our workers, hence this proposal,” Nograles said.

The salary increase bill is principally authored by Nationalist People’s Coalition Rep. Roseller Barinaga of Zamboanga del Norte and cosponsored by Aksiyon Demokratiko Rep. Edcel Lagman of Albay, Liberal Party Rep. Eduardo Gullas of Cebu and Party-list Reps. Renato Magtubo of Partido ng Manggagawa, Liza Maza and Teodoro Casiño, both of Bayan Muna, and Crispin Beltran of Anakpawis.

Barinaga said minimum wages have remained grossly inadequate to support decent living standards after more than a decade of wage rationalization.

“This highlights the government’s failure to provide economic relief to the workers toward securing a living wage as mandated by the Constitution,” Barinaga said.

He noted that the real value or purchasing power of the current P250 minimum wage in Metro Manila has already fallen to less than P74, using 1989 as base year. This translates to a difference of around P125 between the current nominal wage and its corresponding real value in 1989 prices.

“The gap between the minimum wage and cost of living, which is estimated at over P460—as of June 1999—for a family of six in Metro Manila, ranges from a low of P260 to a high of P297,” Barinaga said.

He said what is more disheartening is the fact that the situation is similar or even worse for the other regions in the country, where the prevailing minimum wage represents only 37 percent to 41 percent of the average cost of living.

Lagman, a veteran advocate of legislated wage hike, said a P125 across-the-board salary increase for private-sector workers would partially restore the lost purchasing power of the working man’s peso.

The proposed increase would bring minimum wages to within 64 percent to 68 percent of cost-of-living estimates. “Although P125 per day is insufficient, it is substantial enough to raise the quality of life of 16 million workers and their dependents,” Lagman said.


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