Faith and Spirituality

Christian labor group hits ‘measly’ P40 daily wage increase in Metro Manila

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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Christian labor group hits ‘measly’ P40 daily wage increase in Metro Manila

NOT ENOUGH. Minimum wage earners demonstrate what the government’s P40 wage increase could buy in the market, at the Nepa Q-Mart in Quezon City early on July 3, 2023.

Jire Carreon/Rappler

A living wage ‘is necessary and just, and is fundamental to Catholic social teaching because it is closely linked to human dignity,' says the Church People-Workers Solidarity

MANILA, Philippines – A decade-old Christian labor group, led by the Roman Catholic bishop of San Carlos, criticized the P40 ($0.72) daily salary increase in Metro Manila that the capital region’s wage board recently approved.

The Church People-Workers Solidarity (CWS) then pushed for House Bill No. 7568 which proposes an across-the-board daily wage hike of P750 ($13.57) in the private sector. 

“CWS reiterates its stand that a living wage is necessary and just, and is fundamental to Catholic social teaching because it is closely linked to human dignity,” the group said in a statement on Monday, July 3. The statement was signed by the group’s chairperson, Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Carlos.

Founded in 2011, the CWS describes itself as a non-profit ecumenical body composed of bishops, clergy, consecrated men and women, and laypersons who strive for solidarity with laborers in the Philippines. 

The CWS released its statement after the Metro Manila wage board granted this salary increase on June 27. Workers’ organizations said the P40 daily wage hike, however, is “way below the P100 to P1,140 wage hike petitions filed by several labor groups” since December 2022.

The CWS agreed that this “measly” wage increase “is very far from the living wage sought by labor groups.”

“A hallmark of the modern Roman Catholic approach to economic justice has been its advocacy for the workers’ right to a family living wage. CWS supports the call of the church, as amplified in its various social teachings, for the workers’ right for a wage that would sufficiently cover the needs of a family and would ensure a decent standard of living,” the group said.

The Catholic Church is one of the staunchest advocates of workers’ rights, while other Christian groups, such as the Iglesia Filipina Independiente or the Aglipayan Church, are also known to be pro-labor.

While its teachings on marriage and family are the ones that frequently make headlines, the Catholic Church keeps a solid body of documents – collectively called Catholic social teaching – on putting workers over profit. Modern Catholic social teaching began in May 1891 with the encylical Rerum Novarum, by Pope Leo XIII, on capital and labor. – Rappler.com

*$1 = P55.22

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email pat.esmaquel@rappler.com