P750 minimum wage can keep 200K Filipinos from working abroad every year – Migrante

“A P750/day national minimum wage can significantly reverse the migration of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). If this is legislated, for every year, around 200,000 workers will opt to stay and contribute their labor and skills for nation-building while living decently with their families.”

This was the statement of Arman Hernando, Program Officer of Migrante International and Convenor of Kamag-anak ng mga OFW para sa Kapayapaan at Panlipunang Hustisya (Kamag-anak sa PH) as they joined various labor groups in a dialogue and rally at the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) asserting a legislated, across-the-board, national minimum wage of P750/day for all workers in the private sector, and an end to contractualization.

According to Hernando, a law student whose relatives are mostly migrant workers, OFWs who are receiving a basic salary of US$400-500/month will prefer to work in the Philippines because the income that they can raise in our country will be at par with the meager pay they receive abroad.

In the data of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, since 2011, the country has been annually deploying at least 200,000 OFWs to job positions with salaries ranging from US$400-500/month. Majority are Household Service Workers and General Laborers in the Middle East who receive monthly salaries of 400 US Dollars and 1,500 Saudi Riyals respectively. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, in 2015, these workers account for 33% of the total deployment.

“If DOLE is fully sincere with helping the thousands of displaced OFWs affected by the Saudi crisis, the current administration should provide them local employment and immediately issue an order increasing the wages of workers. If not, these OFWs will find themselves again in dire straits as they will surely leave the country again due to lack of decent-paying domestic jobs,” said Hernando.

Migrante also challenged the Duterte administration to depart from the Philippine economy’s dependence on labor export and remittances. He stressed that labor export has gone bankrupt and only through taking steps in building the domestic economy through genuine land reform and national industrialization and ensuring social protection can joblessness and forced migration be truly addressed.

“We are near the 100th day of the new administration, but the President’s promises on increasing the worker’s wages and ending contractualization have yet to be realized. To President Duterte, now is the time to use your might and wield your power for the upliftment of peoples’ lives,” Hernando concluded.

Migrante, together with other peoples organizations, is set to hold a rally on October 8 in Mendiola to mark the 100th day in office of President Duterte. The rally will call for the fulfillment of the People’s Agenda for Change crafted during the start of the Duterte administration. Groups are pressing the adminstration to implement much needed socio-economic reforms in line with the president’s promise of change. ###