Artificial inflation slowdown in February not an excuse to keep wages frozen in eight regions–women’s group says

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Gabriela Women’s Party said on Sunday that the latest inflation data for February at  2.6 percent points to an artificial slowdown should not be used to extend the minimum wage freeze in at least eight regions in the country.

Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas said the lower inflation data last month was mainly due to the tempered oil price hikes due to the glut in global oil supply and amid the drop in demand for oil as China’s manufacturing centers were hit by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak.

“The February inflation data should not be used to prolong the wage hike drought in several regions across the country.  Sobrang pagpapahirap na ito lalo sa mga nanay na pilit pinagkakasya ang kakarampot na kita ng pamilya sa harap ng papataas na cost of living sa bansa. Kagyat na dapat ipatupad ang makabuluhang dagdag-sahod,” Brosas said.

The minimum wage of workers in the National Capital Region (NCR), for instance, has been stuck at P537 per day since the last quarter of 2018 despite the back-to-back tranches of added taxes under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law.

Other regions which have yet to implement wage hike orders since 2018 include Region 2, Region IV-A, Region IV-B, Region V (Bicol region), Region IX (Zamboanga region), Region X (Northern Mindanao region) and Region XI (Davao region).

“Women workers in particular are being paid below minimum wage especially in sectors with generally low productivity and low value adding activities such as the retail sector,” she said.

Brosas said the artificial slower inflation rate does not also reflect the  impacts of massive importation of agricultural goods on local producers.

“The fact that we are being swamped by cheap imported goods to the detriment of local farmers should not be left out in the picture. Napipilitang magbagsak ng presyo ang mga magsasaka dahil sa todong liberalisasyon ng agrikultura,” said Brosas.

Gabriela Women’s Party said thousands of women marched on Sunday to Mendiola to urge President Rodrigo Duterte and the administration to prioritize the passage of the P750 national minimum wage, as contained in Makabayan bloc’s House Bill 246.

The said measure, it said, will bring economic relief to millions of Filipino families and ensure that incomes are closer to living wage which is mandated by the Constitution./Stacy Ang

 

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