NCR Minimum Wage Insufficient – Ibon

MANILA, Philippines - A group is pressing for substantial wage hike in Metro Manila after noting that the current P426 minimum wage is grossly insufficient to provide for a small family.

The Ibon Foundation said that the gap between the minimum wage and cost of living in the National Capital Region (NCR) has widened significantly in the past 10 years, with a discrepancy of P567 or 43 percent of the cost of living allowance by the end of 2011.

Ibon Executive Director Sonny Africa said the gap between the mandated minimum wage and the family living wage (FLW) in the NCR at the end of 2001 was P244, if the minimum wage was P265 and the family living wage (FLW) was P509. He said this means that the minimum wage is just 52 percent of the FLW.

Africa pointed out that the gap widened over the next 10 years and reached P567 (P426 minimum wage and P993 FLW) by the end of 2011, or a minimum wage of just 43 percent of the FLW.

"The family living for 2011 is inflated using NCR commodity price index since September, 2008, which is the last time that the National Wages Productivity Commission released an FLW estimate," Africa said.

Considering these estimates, "the current NCR minimum wage of P426 is grossly insufficient to provide for even a small family," he added.

Ibon Foundation's break down of expenses is: P204 per day for food; P2,096 per month for rent; P1,150 per month for fuel, light and water; and P28 per day or P843 per month for transportation.

"These account for some 80 percent of total spending with the balance going to personal care, clothing and footwear, education, medical care and others," Africa said. "This indicates the poor quality of life that minimum wage earners in Metro Manila can afford," he added.

Ibon pointed out that a substantial wage hike is necessary and urgent especially as the current mandated minimum wage in Metro Manila falls far short of providing for decent living.

Moreover, raising wages is a concrete way to make growth in the country become more inclusive, with low-paid workers sharing in the fruits of economic growth rather than benefiting just a handful of rich families and big corporations, it said.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), however, said it has not identified a significant gap between income and expenditure of workers in the past decade. (With a report from Samuel P. Medenilla)

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