Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos lamented the “unjust” situation of Filipino workers even as inflation in the country has eased.
In an interview with Vatican News on May 9, the bishop said that in the Philippines “what we call ‘minimum wage’ is not necessarily a just wage, or a living wage, or a family wage.”
Data from the Philippine National Wages and Productivity Commission show that the average monthly minimum wage in the country is only 8,902 pesos, or a little over 145 euro.
In contrast, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported that as of 2021, the poverty threshold for a family of five, or the minimum monthly income that a family of five needs to meet basic food and non-food requirements, is 12,030 pesos (196.45 euro).
“They did not match the increase in prices,” the bishop said, referring to past wage hikes implemented in the country.
“The majority of the workers have been impoverished. So, if you ask me how is the situation of the workers in the past years, it has really grown worse,” he added.
Aside from insufficient minimum wage, the bishop said some workers do not have benefits and security of tenure.
Bishop Alminaza, who is chairperson of the Church People-Workers Solidarity (CWS), pointed out that in the Philippines, the agricultural sector is “the poorest among the poor.”
In a separate statement, the bishop emphasized that a living wage is “necessary and just” and is fundamental to Catholic Social teaching because it is “closely linked to human dignity.”
“Jesus grew up as a son of a carpenter. He was referred to as the carpenter’s son. So, it was Jesus bringing dignity to work,” he said.
“The Social teaching of the Church is to uphold the dignity of labor, of workers,” the bishop added. – from a Vatican News report