Workers' group seeks minimum wage hike amid rising prices of goods

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For some workers in Metro Manila, a wage hike does not necessarily mean that they will be able to make ends meet.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 27) — A labor group called for a minimum wage hike as the workers' buying power decreased amid rising prices of basic goods.

Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) spokesperson Alan Tanjusay said Sunday with the price hike of basic goods and fuel, partly due to the tax reform law, the minimum wage should be increased to P800.

"Nagrereklamo na kami noong wala pang TRAIN (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law) na mataas na 'yung inflation. Here comes the TRAIN...merong two-pronged relation sa inflation, kaya napakabilis at napaka-furious ng inflation," Tanjusay said.

[Translation: We've been calling for a wage hike since before the implementation of TRAIN Law and there was high inflation. Now, we have the TRAIN...There's a two-pronged relation on the inflation, so the rise is faster.]

The ALU-TUCP explained the current P512 minimum wage is only worth P326 in Metro Manila. This is down from P357 last month, when prices of basic commodities were lower.

Tanjusay added the government should also grant a separate P500 cash subsidy for minimum wage earners.

"Dapat maglabas din ang gobyerno in the form of subsidy to augment the wage increase na ibibigay ng employers so that workers would be able to cope with inflation," he said.

[Translation: The government should also release a subsidy to augment the wage increase to be given by employers, so that workers would be able to cope with inflation.]

Meanwhile, upon the order of President Rodrigo Duterte, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello said he has directed the regional and tripartite wage boards to discuss the effects of the TRAIN law on workers.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, meanwhile, told CNN Philippines they will step up monitoring of stores to guard against profiteering.

"We monitor 400 stores per week and given directions from PRRD, we shall double that this coming weeks," Lopez said.

He said, however, manufacturers and supermarkets have been following the suggested retail prices (SRPs) for fear of being penalized.

Lopez added they will closely monitor agricultural products in wet markets as prices fluctuate.

"We will suggest to DA (Department of Agriculture) to consider putting SRPs or price controls, that will be set accordingly to supply and demand situations per week," Lopez said.

Finance Undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua earlier said the tax reform law is not the cause of higher prices of basic goods, as it contributed less than half a percent to the country's inflation rate in April.

He added other factors are behind the spike in commodity prices, such as the depreciation of peso, the rise in fuel prices, and profiteering.