Amidst skyrocketing inflation and plummeting value of the Peso, Philippine workers and employees are launching work stoppages and other types of collective action to press their demands for higher wages and job security. Trade unions are also directly calling on the Marcos II government to address their deteriorating living conditions.
On 3 November, workers of the Kowloon House restaurant chain launched a protest action demanding the raising of their minimum daily wage from PhP537.00 to PhP570.00 (US$9.39 – US$9.97). They also demanded the management to meet with their union for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
The Kowloon House chain has 104 restaurant branches throughout the country.
On the same day, the Technol Eight Workers Union staged a picket outside of the National Conciliation and Mediation Board, calling for the continuation of their CBA negotiations with Technol Eight Philippines management. Negotiations have been held 15 times on and off without headway, the company refusing to increase wages beyond PhP24.00 per day (US$0.42).
Technol Eight Philippines manufactures auto parts for the Toyoda Iron Works Company of Japan.
Inflation in the country is currently at 7.7%, the highest in 14 years. Manila government officials reveal that, using 2018 as baseline, the real value of the daily minimum nominal wage of PhP570 has shrunk by PhP76.00 (US$1.33) in 2022.
Elmer Labog, national chair of the trade union center Kilusang Mayo Uno, criticized the inaction of President Marcos, Jr., amid the worsening economic crisis. He asserted that Marcos, Jr. has all the power to give Filipinos urgent relief. “He can issue an order to raise workers’ wages through the Regional Wage Boards. He can also push Congress to pass a legislation to raise workers’ wages. He can also issue an order or goad Congress to take off taxes on oil products and impose price control,” he said.
Meanwhile, public sector employees are wary of reported plans to ‘right-size’ government agencies. Marcos’ Department of Budget and Management advised that laying off 5% of public sector employees will save PhP14.8 Billion (US$259 Million) and “fix redundant functions”.
However, public sector union Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees criticized the proposed ‘rightsizing’, saying this does not always result in reducing the bureaucracy. COURAGE asserted that the current ratio in the country of government employees to people served is among the lowest internationally, and refuted the notion that the bureaucracy is overloaded.
Contractual government employees also fear they will be the first to be affected by this ‘rightsizing’. As of 2021, there are 449,748 government employees under ‘job order’ and 132,630 personnel under the contract of the service term.