P33k minimum wage for gov't workers nationwide sought amid rising prices

EDSA traffic
Slow-moving traffic and congestion on EDSA, a main thoroughfare across Metro Manila, as seen in January 2022, the second year of the pandemic.
Philstar.com / Deejae Dumlao

MANILA, Philippines — As the prices of basic goods continue to skyrocket, worker groups in the government appealed Wednesday for an increase in the minimum wage of state workers to P33,000 per month.

Government workers led by the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) and Kawani Laban sa Kontraktwalisasyon (KALAKON) rallied at the Department of Budget and Management in Manila to press for better wages and benefits and job security.

This comes after Budge Secretary Amenah Pagdangaman said Tuesday that the DBM would study the possibility of another round of salary increases and review the present benefits of government employees next year.

"This response is not enough. The present state of salaries and benefits of government workers requires more urgent and concrete response from the Bongbong Marcos administration,” said COURAGE Secretary General Manny Baclagon.

"We challenge President Marcos Jr. to walk the talk. For example, he can make executive issuances to increase present benefits being received now such as the Personnel Economic Relief Allowance, Special Relief Incentive, and Gratuity Pay for job orders and contract of service workers, aside from certifying as urgent the passage of bills to increase the inflation-eroded salaries of government workers."

The Inventory of Government Human Resources of the Civil Service Commission reported that there are more than 600,000 job order and contract of service workers in government as of June 2022, which COURAGE said do not get the benefits of regular government employees. 

"Present government policies do not consider them as government workers. Hence, they do not receive benefits received by regular workers such as year-end and Christmas bonuses. Many of these workers have been in government for more than 5 years," Baclagon said. 

Other labor groups outside of civil service have also called for wage hikes amid precarious oil prices. 

Partido Manggagawa called on Congress to increase the minimum wage by P100, while Kilusang Mayo Uno wanted to add P750 to the minimum wage. The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines also filed a petition before the National Capital Region-Regional Wages and Productivity Board for a P470 hike.

"We also hope the President will give gratuity pay and make it P10,000 and give it before Christmas this year to our JOCOS workers," Klifford Bartolata of KALAKON also said for his part in Filipino.

Latest figures from the Philippine Statistics Authority also estimated that some 2.5 million Filipinos were jobless in September.

But government data consolidated by think tank the IBON Foundation shows that the budget for ayuda has been on a downward trend since 2020, from P479 billion in 2020, to P252.6 billion the following year, and currently P292.3 billion in the proposed 2023 budget.

This resulted in around 2.9 million families or more than one-tenth of Filipino families experiencing hunger in October, according to the latest Social Weather Station survey.

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