Labor groups press for wage increase amid rising inflation


Workers deserve to get an additional pay amid the high cost of living for their contribution to the country’s record-breaking economic growth last year, labor groups said on Wednesday.

National Federation of Labor Unions-Kilusang Mayo Uno (NAFLU-KMU) issued the statement as members vented their frustration on the opposition of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) on proposed wage increases.

During the Development Budget Coordination Committee briefing at the House of Representatives last Tuesday, Neda warned that pay increases right now will only worsen inflation. 

It noted the increase should be instead based on high labor demand and improved productivity.

NAFLU, however, pointed out Filipino workers have remained productive even during the pandemic citing the high economic growth, which reached 7.6 percent last year—the highest in 46 years. 

“We became productive even during the pandemic and paved the way towards the new normal,” NAFLU said in Filipino in its statement.

“If that is the case, where is the contribution of workers’ economic growth?” it added. 

The group stressed workers are in dire need of additional pay as inflation reached 8.7 percent last January and is projected to reach 8.5 to 9.3 percent last month by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.  

“If they want real and sustainable productivity, they should recommend policies for economic growth, which establish and improve local industries and have a corresponding and living wage for workers,” NAFLU said. 

System failure

For its part, the Federation of Free Workers (FFW) pointed out how the existing minimum wage setting system of the regional wage board failed to address the plight of workers, who are struggling to cope with the high cost of living. 

“For years, real wages have not kept up with increasing productivity, and the wage-setting mechanisms put in place in 1989 have failed to deliver for workers. It failed to live up to its mandate of providing a fair share of the fruits of their labor to workers,” FFW said in a separate statement.  

It called on the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to expedite the review of wages by the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB). 

It noted that while it understands the concern of economic managers on the inflationary impact of wage increase, it should not discount the need for the said measure. 

The labor group said the RTWPB should start consultations with the labor sector to come up with the amount acceptable to employers.

An increased income for workers, it said, could help stimulate the economy and attract more investments.   

“We urge the government to engage in a dialogue with labor to address the country’s economic challenges and ensure that no one is left behind,” FFW said.

Image credits: Nonie Reyes