Various business groups have claimed that there is no basis to adjust the minimum wage because the erosion of the peso as of April 2007 was very insignificant. But it obscures the point that workers’ wages can no longer keep with high and rising prices, according to independent think-tank .
While inflation in April did go down to 2% from 8% in the same period last year, this only indicated that the rate that prices were going up had slowed but prices of goods and services still remained high. In fact, the cost of living continues to escalate.
The National Wages and Productivity Board pegs the living wage for a family of six as of May 2007 at P786. But the daily minimum wage in Metro Manila is just P350 (P300 basi c p lus P50 ) or just over half of the family living wage.
Moreover, the low inflation rates are meaningless for the increasing number of Filipinos who are earning insufficient incomes or worse, do not have jobs. IBON estimates that close to a third of the labor force were either jobless or if employed, is still looking for more work.
The real value of workers’ wages had also seriously been eroded. The purchasing power of the peso in Metro Manila, or the amount of goods and services one peso can buy, had fallen to P0.70 in April from P0.72 last year. This means that over the past year, a worker has lost P2 of actual buying power for every P100 he or she earns. But between April 2005-2006 a worker actually lost P5 of actual buying power.
This loss in buying power underscores the urgency for a wage hike, particularly in light of workers’ increasing productivity. Workers’ productivity grew to P9,560 in the first quarter of 2007 from P9,265 in the same period last year. (end)