Senator Risa Hontiveros renewed her call to the government to consider granting workers’ demands for pay adjustments and to devise appropriate measures to contain inflation.
Hontiveros said low wages and high prices are causing many Filipinos to be “buried into poverty.”
Reports said the country’s inflation surged to 8% in November, surpassing the 14-year high of 7.7% recorded in October.
She hopes that the government will heed the call of workers especially with the coming Christmas.
Hontiveros supports the call for wage hikes as contained in the 5-Point Labor Agenda being pushed by the Nagkaisa Labor Coalition and United Labor and has committed to work for reforms in the wage fixing mechanisms at the Senate.
She said that the proposed increase is justified because, in addition to inflation, productivity-based wage adjustments have never been granted by Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards.
“Most minimum wages are set around the poverty line, but it is undisputed that labor productivity has been going up while real wages have been at the same level for decades now. As production technology is improved, our workers have to work more,” Hontiveros said.
The labor sector, she argued, must not be made to carry the burden of battling economic crises everywhere.
She noted that other than wage hikes, the government must find methods to prevent further erosion of the purchasing power of Filipinos by regulating the high inflation rate on basic household expenditures such as food and utilities such as electricity and water.
Instead of focusing on the Maharlika Fund which can reduce the funds of SSS and GSIS workers, she said it is more important to recoup what the people lost.
The inflation rate of electricity, gas, and other fuels is at 13%, which higher than the overall inflation rate, particularly in places outside National Capital Region.
“Therefore, any step that might lead to lower electricity costs can minimize the severe impact of total inflation at the household level,” she said.
Hontiveros has been advocating for a number of measures to reduce electricity prices in the country, such as lowering the 15% weighted average cost of capital (WACC) allowed by regulators to be collected from customers and the effective implementation of the “least cost” pricing required by EPIRA.