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Living wage no longer realistic — labor group

April 17, 2011 7:28pm
The Family Living Wage (FLW) – stuck at its 2008 level – is no longer realistic, laments Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) chairman Renato Magtubo, pointing out that the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC) has pegged the real value of the current P404 minimum wage in Metro Manila at a measly P239.76.

He said a timely estimate of FLW is important because it shows how much a Filipino family’s current cost of living has shrunk relative to its income, thus must be principally considered in making wage adjustments.

Magtubo said, “There is a clear mismatch between the actual needs of workers and their level of income because the present system puts more weight on capitalist’s capacity to pay rather than on labor’s capacity to buy."

He said even as the government grants the P125 and P75 wage hike demand, it would still only cover roughly half of the workers’ actual needs.

Magtubo wants the current wage fixing mechanism to be replaced by one that considers the living wage as the main criteria for adjusting the basic minimum wage.

The United Filipinos in Hong Kong (Unifil), for their part, said overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are reeling from the shrinking value of their remittances back home and the huge cuts in their salaries as household service workers in Hong Kong.

Unifil chairperson Dolores Balladares said the current wage of household service workers in Hong Kong has further shrunk to HK$3,580 per month – the lowest it has been in more than a decade. This monthly salary is lower than the HK $3,670 in 2002 and HK$3,860 in 1998.

More than 200,000 Filipino household service workers are employed in Hong Kong, based on figures from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Oil price hikes brought about by the uprisings in the Middle East and North African (MENA) region have the Hong Kong administration further adjusting the minimum allowable wage to the detriment of OFWs there.

“In times of crisis, our wage is one of the first to be hit but in times of economic recovery, foreign service workers are left in the gutter," Balladares said.

The Regional Wage and Productivity Commission in the National Capital Region cited the conflicts in MENA region as “supervening reasons" preventing minimum wage adjustments in Metro Manila, precisely because these caused oil prices to skyrocket. – MRT/KBK, GMA News
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