Rise in hunger incident blamed on denial of wage relief

May. 06, 2006

MANILA — “The continued rise in the country’s hunger incidence that reached a record high of 16.9 percent in March can be blamed on the government’s perpetual denial of a much-needed wage hike for workers,” according to militant labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU).

About 2.8 million families as estimated in the survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) experience hunger. “High unemployment rate and the widening gap in the cost of living and minimum wages due to skyrocketing prices of basic commodities are the culprits in the rising hunger trend,” said KMU Chairperson Elmer Labog.

The SWS survey highlighted the increase of severe and moderate hunger which stands at 4.2% or 700,000 families and 12.7% or 2.1 million families in March. Severe hunger is defined as going hungry often or always while moderate hunger pertains to the experience of hunger once or a few times in the last three months.

“What is striking is the upward trend in the hunger incidence outside Metro Manila which all the more proves our point why a legislated P125 wage hike across the board is desperately needed,” insisted the labor leader.

Hunger went up in the Visayas and the rest of Luzon to 16% and 14.7% in March from 14.3% and 13.7% in December. In Mindanao, it remains high at 21 %.

The KMU expects that hunger incidence will remain critically high with the rise of oil prices and the effect of the Reformed Value Added Tax (RVAT). Petron Corp. already announced that it will again increase petroleum pump prices by 50 centavos per liter tomorrow morning.

Meanwhile, KMU Women Department Secretary Nenita Gonzaga also said that the situation of nutrition of Filipino children is likewise deteriorating because women workers are not able to maintain reproductive health because of insufficient wages, “Mothers and other working women are forced to ignore the much-needed nutritional requirements for their families.”

“In far-flung areas, hunger is a common occurrence. Poor families are forced to eat only once a day due to severe poverty. Their meal consists mostly of low-grade rice, boiled root crops, leafy vegetables and salt or fish sauce. They cannot afford to buy meat, poultry and even cooking oil. In urban centers, instant noodles and sardines have become the staple food of workers and their families. The goods sold at “Tindahan ni Gloria” rolling stores are priced almost the same as basic goods in markets and retail stores,” said Gonzaga.

A report from the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) discloses that the country has 3 million or 28 percent under-five who are underweight while 30% of the age group suffer from stunting or being too short for one’s age while 6 percent have been classified as wasted or dangerously thin.

“These realities are indicators of the government’s failure to provide programs which generates sustainable jobs and decent wages for Filipinos,” Gonzaga ended. (KMU)

comments powered by Disqus