Makabayan bloc calls for national minimum wage

MANILA, Philippines – Members of the Makabayan House bloc renewed their call for a national minimum wage as the nation commemorated Labor Day on Monday, May 1.  

ACT Teachers Representatives France Castro and Antonio Tinio, Anakpawis Representative Ariel Casilao, and Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate issued separate statements seeking a P750 daily national minimum wage for Filipino workers. (READ: Is it time for a national minimum wage?

The lawmakers joined various labor groups in their protests in Metro Manila on Monday.

According to Zarate, a P750 minimum wage is the “amount actually needed by an average Filipino family to have a decent living.” 

"We are calling on President [Rodrigo] Duterte to heed the Filipino workers' call for a P750 minimum wage by certifying as urgent its passage by Congress. We challenge to make real his promise lifting the workers from  the bondage of exploitation,” said Zarate.

Castro and Tinio also urged the President to scrap the provisions under the proposed tax reform package imposing new excise taxes on fuel and the expansion of the value-added tax for certain sectors.  

They then cited Pulse Asia’s March 2017 Ulat ng Bayan Survey, which 43% of Filipinos consider increasing the pay of workers as their top concerns. Controlling inflation got 41% while job creation received 39%.  

“The people’s top concerns should also be Duterte’s top priorities,” said Tiñio.

“His administration should therefore heed this resounding clamor of the people by enacting laws that will increase salaries and wages of the working people and junking proposals for more indirect taxes which will only worsen inflation,” he added. 

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, a family of 5 needs at least P9,064 monthly or around P390 daily to meet their needs. Independent think tank IBON Foundation pegged the number at P1,019 per day. 

Meanwhile, Castro noted the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 does not include salary increases for public and private sector workers.

"We find it alarming that, for the next 5 years, government appears not to be considering the widespread demand for substantial pay increases, as expressed in the campaign for a national minimum wage,” she said. 

Casilao also renewed his call to end labor contractualization in the Philippines. The lawmaker is author of House Bill Number 556 or the anti-contractualization bill.  (READ: Labor groups: Draft order vs contractualization betrays dialogue with Duterte

“We urge the president to end ‘endo’ and not be a ‘trapo (traditional politician),’ immediately end labor contractualization and uplift the well-being of about 37 million workers in the country,” said Casilao. 

Republic Act Number 6727 or the Wage Rationalization Act mandates that every region in the Philippines have a unique minimum wage set by the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards based on the poverty threshold, employment rate, and cost of living specific to the region.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said in September 2016 that Duterte wants equal pay for workers in Metro Manila and in the provinces. (READ: Duterte has 'surprise' for workers on Labor Day – Bello)

No bill, however, has been filed at the House and the Senate calling for a national minimum wage. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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