Next admin should prioritize wage increases: think-tank

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 02 2022 12:39 PM

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MANILA – A think-tank on Monday called on the next Philippine president to prioritize pay hikes for workers, stressing that the real value of wages has remained flat for the last 2 decades.

On ANC Rundown, IBON Foundation executive director Sonny Africa said wages have remained flat if inflation is factored in.

“For instance in the case of President Duterte, the nominal minimum wage increased from P491+21+25 to P537, that seems like a 9.4 percent increase, but if you take away the effect of inflation, it turns out, as of March 2022, it’ s a -8.9 percent decline instead,” he said.

“This problem actually predates Duterte. For the last 20 years, productivity has been increasing, but wages have, real wages have remained flat. Unfortunately, that’s a policy choice by the government, productivity gains of corporations are unfortunately getting concentrated in profits more than being distributed to workers,” he added.

Africa said shifting to a high-wage economy can spur productivity and boost consumption in the Philippines.

“Our sense is, every time wages are talked about, [it] seems to be [an] inconvenience for government and employers. We want to, we suggest stepping back…a high-wage economy increases aggregate demand, increases amount of consumption spending circulating in economy, it should be pushing productivity increases,” he noted.

“There’s a lot of talk about inclusive COVID recovery, recovering better. I think it’s hard to recover by creating jobs, that will take some determined policy choices,” Africa said.

“But wages are an immediate way for the government I think to redistribute the gains of economic growth and the supposed recovery we’re feeling right now,” he added.

Workers on Labor Day lamented that the prevailing minimum wages in the Philippines are not enough to provide Filipino families with decent meals.

Since March, labor groups have been filing petitions to hike the minimum wages in the country amid the increase in prices of basic goods.

--ANC, 2 May 2022