Living wage is a justice issue, church-labor group says

May 1, 2024 - 1:11 PM
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said the bridges, which are part of the government’s massive infrastructure program, aim to stimulate growth in the Visayas and create jobs outside Metro Manila. (The STAR/Miguel de Guzman)

The call for a just living wage is not an appeal for goodwill but rather a call for justice, an alliance of church leaders and labor organizations said.

In its Labor Day message, the Church People-Workers Solidarity (CWS) stressed that the right to living wage is not something optional in the church teaching, but “is rooted in the dignity of the human person”.

“The Church teaches that all workers, in return for their labor, are entitled to a living wage. A just wage is the legitimate fruit of work. To refuse or withhold it can be a grave injustice,” said Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, CWS chairperson.

In determining fair pay, according to him, both the needs and the contribution of each person must be taken into account.

The CWS lamented that the minimum wages across 17 regions of the country are not enough to meet a typical family of five’s needs to cover food and non-food costs.

It also noted the national average daily minimum wage stands at P440, while the family living wage averaged at P1,202, resulting in a wage gap of P762.

“With rising inflation, the wage gap has been growing wider because the wage increases of regional wage boards are so infrequent and so small that worker wages aren’t keeping up with inflation, nor even with increasing productivity,” said Alminaza, who is also the bishop of the Diocese of San Carlos.

“If the lived experience of people does not reflect or enhance human dignity, then the social, economic, and political context must be changed to make it more humane and protective of persons’ dignity,” he added.

All Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards (RTWPBs) have recently issued their respective wage orders.

Meanwhile, several bills are pending in Congress pushing for across-the-board wage increases for workers in the private sector.