P418 daily pay hike sought for Davao Region workers

Ramon Royandoyan - Philstar.com
This undated file photo shows a woman buying vegetables at a market.
The STAR / Walter Bollozos

MANILA, Philippines — The largest labor federation in the Philippines on Thursday filed a petition to raise wages in the Davao Region in a bid to protect workers there from expensive oil that could set off a slew of increases in living costs around the country.

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) filed a petition seeking to improve wages in the Davao Region to P814 from P396 currently.

This is the third petition of its kind that the labor group filed since lodging one last week to increase wages to P1,007 in Metro Manila and another one earlier this week to hike the daily pay of workers in Central Visayas to P808.

"Our minimum wage earners and their families have already fallen below the poverty level even before the ongoing Ukraine-Russia conflict and the succeeding oil price hikes that are now pushing the prices of basic goods and services," TUCP President Raymond Democrito Mendoza said in a statement,

The last time minimum wages in the country were tweaked was back in 2018, when a rice supply crisis fanned inflation.

A spike in inflation would typically prompt Filipino workers to call for a wage hike, but some labor groups held back from asking for an increase last year over fears that doing so would only exacerbate pandemic-induced business shutdowns that could leave more workers jobless and hungry.

That said, workers have been carrying the burden of expensive prices throughout the pandemic, worsened by increases in meat prices as the African swine fever tore through hog farms in the country.

"The fact that our minimum wage earners have become the newly poor is a blatant injustice that must be seriously and urgently addressed by the government,” Mendoza added.

The TUCP was not the first labor group to call for wage hikes amid surging oil prices. Partido Manggagawa called on Congress to increase the minimum wage by P100. Meanwhile, Kilusang Mayo Uno wanted to add P750 to the minimum wage.

The TUCP broke down data to support its wage hike petition. Despite the economic meltdown due to the pandemic, the Davao Region's economy expanded by 3% while wages remained flat. The labor group estimated that with the current minimum wage in the region, workers could afford P14.48 per meal for every member of their family. This was lower than P61.17 estimated by the Ateneo Policy Center crafted using government data.

To top it off, TUCP shot down arguments that wage hikes were not necessary at this point because oil prices would decline in the coming weeks. Citing the International Energy Agency's projection, the group said an oil supply deficit of 3 million barrels per day would materialize if Russia's invasion of Ukraine goes on for much longer. The labor group acknowledged that price rollbacks could indeed happen, but said prices of basic goods and services will shoot up because of the supply gap.

The labor department already ordered a review of minimum wage levels earlier this month.




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