An umbrella network of labor unions has urged President Rodrigo Duterte to give a P500 monthly subsidy to workers, citing a significant rise in the cost of electricity and lowered value of the daily minimum wage.
“We are proposing a subsidy for workers through its Labor Empowerment and Assistance Program following a significant increase in household electricity and the falling value of P491 daily minimum wage,” said Alan Tanjusay, spokesman of the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines.
Tanjusay said at least 25 percent of a minimum wage worker’s monthly pay is spent for electric bills alone, up from only 11 percent five years ago.
Tanjusay said a minimum wage earner’s current real monthly wage is P8,728 while the average 200 kwh household consumption is equivalent to P2,200.
“The regional wage boards are no longer responsive to the needs of minimum waged workers and their families against rising cost of inflation in the context of consistently growing economic growth. We have high economic growth yet the workers who helped built that economy is poor,” he said.
Earlier, the labor group said the value of an ordinary worker’s pay has dipped by 15 percent due to a 23-centavo increase in the cost of power.
The government’s National Wages and Productivity Commission says the purchasing power of the P491 daily minimum pay is P364, or a drop of P127 a day since the last quarter of 2016.
“Government’s regulatory bodies the Energy Regulatory Commission and the Department of Energy officials who are supposed to protect the interest of consumers are no longer functioning to protect the people against the rising cost of power,” said ALU-TUCP vice president Louie Corral.
Manila Electric Co. recently said the recent electricity price hike was due to the low dispatch of contracted independent power producers, maintenance shutdown or outages of power suppliers, and increase in fuel costs.
Tanjusay also noted a World Bank report last week which placed the Philippines as having the lowest level of growth in the export sector among Asean countries.
“Clearly, the lack of power supply and the spiraling, seemingly uncontrollable power costs spikes... are the main culprit to disincentivize the entry of locators and investors discouraging job-creating investments needed by our millions of jobless workforce,’’ Tanjusay said.