Under Aquino: Real minimum wage up by only P17 amid huge private profits

The gap between the nominal minimum wage and the family living wage grew while big business is reeling in huge private profits

Research group IBON said that real minimum wage barely increased under the Aquino administration while big business continues to enjoy billions in private profits.

IBON observed that real minimum wage in the National Capital Region (NCR), the highest in the land, increased by only Php17.06 from Php346.78 in July 2010 to Php363.84 in December 2015. The real minimum wage is the value of the nominal minimum wage adjusted for inflation and approximates what earnings can buy in terms of goods and services.

The group further noted that under the Aquino administration, the gap between the nominal minimum wage and the family living wage (the amount needed by a family of five to live decently) grew from Php556 to Php608 during the same period. In July 2010, the Php404 nominal minimum wage was only 42% of the Php960 family living wage. By December 2015, the Php481 nominal minimum wage barely grew to 44% of the Php1,089 family living wage.

In contrast, IBON said that big business is reeling in huge private profits. Between 2010 and 2014, the net income of the Top 1000 corporations grew 41% (from Php804 million to Php1.14 billion); and between 2010 and 2014, the net income of the some 360 listed corporations grew 33% (from 438 billion to Php583 billion).

IBON added that between 2010 and 2015, the wealth in peso terms of the 10 richest Filipinos increased almost four-fold (from Php630 billion to Php2.24 trillion). In 2013, the CEO of Meralco made at least Php194,521 per day, of First Pacific at least Php184,438, and of SMC at least Php165,288.

Despite calls to raise the national daily minimum wage to P750 (at P125 nationwide for immediate relief), IBON said that the Aquino government refuses to substantially raise workers’ wages. Upon the recommendation of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce (JFCC), government has even institutionalized the two-tier wage system, which recommends floor wages that are lower than the minimum wage as the first tier and a company-determined productivity pay of a few pesos as the second tier.

Government can start ensuring decent workers’ wages by not letting foreign and local corporate interest dominate Philippine economics and governance, IBON said.

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