(PNA file photo)

MANILA – A labor group on Monday supported the directive of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to the Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity Boards (RTWPBs) to review the existing minimum wage level amid soaring commodity prices.

Luis Corral, vice president of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), said the wage boards should act motu proprio (on one's own initiative) on the matter, in view of the 14-year record high 7.7 percent inflation in October this year and its significant impact on the purchasing power of the wages of workers.

“We urge the wage boards to immediately convene and for the tripartite discussion to begin as soon as possible. Even without a wage hike petition and in consideration of the directive of no less than the DOLE Secretary, the wage boards can and must act on this matter right away—motu proprio. We believe that the Government, the employers, and the employees are ready to discuss the wage review, considering the difficult predicament we are all in,” the TUCP official said in a statement.

The group also called on the government's economic managers to prioritize and zero in on three principal items: bring down food and electricity inflation and provide a labor assistance subsidy fund.

“Bring down food inflation by putting up as many Kadiwa outlets as possible, akin to food pantries, and by regularly conducting Diskwento Caravans every 15th and 30th of the month, targeting the poorest communities, through the joint efforts of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Trade and Industries (DTI); Bring down electricity inflation through executive measures that the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) should consider. They should bring down the Weighted Average Cost of Capital (WACC) from 15 percent to the significantly lower 7 percent, which was Bloomberg’s estimate for Philippine utilities,” Coral said.

“Provide labor assistance subsidy fund through cash subsidies and/or food vouchers for our workers, especially minimum wage earners. This is in cognizance of the growing gap between current wages vis-a-vis the increase in the cost of living,” he added.

The TUCP vice president noted that their call is for affordable food, reasonable electricity prices, and adequate salary and support for our workers as they live day by day in the face of rapidly accelerating prices of commodities.

“It is most especially during these difficult times that all sectors need to work together with much energy, and double up our collective efforts to save jobs and save lives,” he said. (PNA)