Women workers join calls for a national wage, secure jobs amid worsening poverty

On International Women’s Day, Women Workers in Struggle for Employment, Empowerment and Emancipation or Women WISE3, an organization of women workers and families of victims of trade union and human rights violations, called on the government to adopt a national minimum wage close to living standards, provide access to secure jobs and livelihood amid worsening poverty in the country.

Dylin Lauron, Women WISE3 secretary-general said, “The demand for secure and regular jobs and a national minimum wage that approximate the living standards becomes more justified with the recent report showing increased poverty incidence.”

Last week, the government reported an increase in poverty incidence by 1.2 points from 24.6 25.8 percent in the first half of 2014. Economists point to rising prices and impact of Typhoon Haiyan as main reasons for the surge in poverty incidence.

“Women are worst hit by poverty because they have less access to regular and paying jobs compared to male counterparts. Women also have lower economic participation compared to men. Living wages and regular jobs will definitely allow women and poor families to cope with ever increasing prices of basic commodities and also increase resilience of the poor to natural disasters and typhoons,” Lauron added.

The group noted that the 2013 gender labor statistics of the government reveal worse working conditions for women: Filipino women’s participation in the labor force is only 49.9 percent compared to 78.1 for men; 30 percent more employed women render unpaid family work compared to men; across all major economic sectors and in most major occupation groups, women also have lower average wages compared to men as much as 47 percent (See Tables 1-3).

The group also underscored that a nationalized wage system is much needed as regional wages dragged down real wages especially in regions outside Metro Manila. Citing a report of the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights, the group said that real wages decreased by as much as 21 percent in the Eastern Visayas Region.

On October last year, All Workers Unity, a national alliance of worker groups from both public and public sector launched a campaign calling for P16,000 national minimum wage.

Table 1. Total number of Employed by Class of worker by Sex (2013)

Class of Worker All Men Women
Wage and salary workers 22,247 13,892 8,355
Self-employed 10,668 6,589 4,080
Unpaid family worker 3,930 1,703 2,227

Source: BLES Gender Labor Statistics 2013

Table 2. Ave. Daily Basic Wage by Major Industry Groups by Sex (2013)

Major Industry Group Men Women
Agriculture 175.30 152.20
Industry 337.18 336.88
Services 418.90 388.36

Source: BLES Gender Labor Statistics 2013

Table 3. Wage Gap Ratio in Selected Major Occupation Groups 2013 /a

Occupation group Men Women Wage Gap Ratio/b
Professionals 811.99 740.20 1.09
Technicians and Associate Professionals 532.62 475.10 1.12
Clerks 447.48 444.72 1.05
Service Workers 334.08 219.86 1.52
Farmers Forestry Workers and Fishermen 294.85 200.08 1.47
Trades and related Workers 323.18 244.59 1.32
Plant and Machine Operators and Assemblers 350.07 338.71 1.03
Laborers and Unskilled Workers 213.89 159.18 1.34
Special Occupations 768.10 621.01 1.23

/a Culled from Gender Labor Statistics (BLES) /b is equivalent to men’s wage divided by Women’s wage



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