Youth group demands wage increase for parents

National Network of Agrarian Reform Advocates (NNARA) – Youth Bicol demands raise on the wage of their parents during the protest caravan in Legazpi City to commemorate the 137th Labor Day, May 1.

According to NNARA – Youth Bicol, some parents of their members are farm workers and construction workers that are also struggling for decent income for their families.

“Even though our school is near our house, my father’s income which is two thousand per week as a foreman is not enough,” said NNARA – Youth Bicol member Ken Penson worrying about his studies and the other four siblings.

Aside from calling for the wage increase, the youth group also wanted to lower the prices of goods especially the rice. “We are struggling because our studies have been affected,” said Gelo Rayco, senior high school student in Libon, Albay. According to him, his father has no salary sometimes as a construction worker and they have lots of debt to pay.

The Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) – V issued Wage Order No. RBV-20 granting a PhP 55 wage increase last year bringing the new minimum wage rate in Bicol region to PhP365 for all sectors. Despite this, protesters reiterated their demand for a living wage and the PhP 750.00 across-the-board national minimum wage.

“The PhP 365.00 minimum daily wage currently received by workers in Bicol region is not enough to meet the PhP 1,087.00/day that a Bicolano family needs to live in dignity,” Nica Ombao of Bicolana Gabriela pointed on the recorded inflation in Bicol. “In a colonial and feudal society like the Philippines, the combination of low wages and inflation always results in hunger and extreme suffering of the entire working class.”

Based on Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) Bicol’s data, the overall inflation in Bicol region slowed down to 7.1% in March 2023 from 8.8 percent in February 2023.

However the decrease in Bicol’s inflation rate was not felt according to Amihan Bicol. “The PhP 365.00 daily wage is insufficient. The people are facing food crisis and the farmers are facing agricultural crisis,” Amihan Bicol spokesperson Lany Guavez said.  

Other than the NNARA – Youth Bicol, jeepney drivers from the No to Jeepney Phaseout Alliance expressed support in the commemoration. There were 18 jeeps that joined the caravan from Busay, Daraga to Legazpi City.

May 1 Committee Bicol led the short program in Penaranda Park in front of Albay Capitol to conclude its protest.

“We need to build the broadest unity and advance our fight for living wages, jobs, lower prices of goods and services, abolition of burdensome taxes and defend our democratic rights,” Ombao said. I via Red Magtoto

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