Beyond word wars: the struggle for substantial wage hike

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Militants prepare a huge streamer bearing the call for higher wages and lower prices (Photo by KMU)

For mainstream economists and policymakers, the issue of wage increase is more like an annual mathematical problem made complex by economic theories. For Filipino workers, it is a struggle for survival.

As prices of basic commodities and oil products continue to soar, progressive labor groups have stepped up their demand to the Aquino government for a substantial wage hike as they vowed to vent their anger in street protests in the coming days.

Labor organizations like the trade union center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and the “Unity for P125” alliance are one in calling for a legislated P125 wage increase for private sector workers.

“We reiterate our view that what the Filipino workers and people need right now is a substantial wage increase. One form of such an increase is contained in House Bill 375 filed by Anakpawis Rep. Rafael V. Mariano which seeks to legislate a P125 across-the-board wage increase nationwide,” KMU said in its statement posted in its website.

HB 375 has so far been discussed only once at the committee level since the opening of the 15th Congress last year.

For its part, the “Unity for P125” alliance said in a report that “the massive erosion of jobs and livelihoods of the people and the shrinking value of wages today are enough reasons why the government should implement a P125 wage increase now.”

State employees under the Wage Fight! Alliance meanwhile are pushing for a P6,000 increase in their minimum pay in light of surging commodity prices, while linking arms with private sector workers who also demand wage increase.

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