Close to a year into the country’s community quarantine and more than a year into the global pandemic, Filipino workers and their families are mired in deepening poverty due to unabated rise in prices of basic commodities, loss of jobs and continuing spread of COVID 19.

“Workers urgently need wage hikes as prices of basic commodities have soared. It is unimaginable how a minimum wage can afford a decent meal, let alone a decent living for a family of four or five members. We support the demands of labour groups for a P100 emergency wage relief nationwide so workers’ pay can keep up with the rising cost of living,” said Julius Carandang, National Coordinator of Metal Workers Alliance of the Philippines (MWAP).

Workers’ demand for wage hikes are reasonable, according to the group. “Multinational companies in export processing zones cannot simply dismiss workers call for wage hike because there are sectors that actually gained in terms of export value in 2020 pandemic,” Carandang stressed. The group cited government data showing that Philippine export value of electronics products commodity rose by 4.6% from January to November 2020 compared to same period in 2019. Export of electrical wiring harness for auto-parts and metal components grew by 27.2% and 15.6% respectively in the time frame.

MWAP underlined that they equally support calls for other forms of economic relief or social protection like paid pandemic leave to workers. “Millions of workers suffered from reduced hours of work or have not yet returned to work. Thus, workers and their families also need other forms of economic relief and social protection from the government. Additionally, as workers remain vulnerable to COVID 19 due to lack of mass testing, limited and slow-paced vaccination, Congress should urgently pass the paid pandemic leave bill as it is a very important social protection measure,” Carandang added.

The paid pandemic leave bill or House Bill 7909 recently passed the House Committee on Labour in the House of Representatives. When passed into law, workers who got sick or exposed to a sick co-worker of a pandemic disease like COVID 19 can get 14 days of paid leaves. Workers who are affected by closure or temporary lay-off due to the pandemic are also entitled to a partial pay for 60 days.#

Reposted from MWAP.