MANILA — The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) has urged the Aquino administration to reconsider its plan to raise light train fares, calling it “harsh and unfair to minimum wage earners and other workers with fixed salaries.”
“We consider the contemplated fare increases unreasonable and unnecessary, in light of government’s capability to continue subsidizing commuters,” said TUCP secretary-general and former Senator Ernesto Herrera.
“Government should be helping employees cost-effectively get to work fast every day, not make it difficult for them to do so,” said Herrera, former chairman of the Senate committee on labor, employment and human resources development.
Herrera also pointed out that light train commuters “are the people who dutifully pay as taxes up to 25 percent of their compensation income.”
“They deserve their taxes back through safe, efficient and affordable means of public transportation,” he said.
Of the 4.2 million workers in Metro Manila, Herrera said 2.18 million are minimum wage earners, and many of them take the elevated trains to work every day.
The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) previously bared plans to raise Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT) fares starting October.
The DOTC indicated that it would increase the MRT fare by P25, and the LRT fare by P5 to P15. Based on the current P15 fare for both trains, the implied new fares are P40 for the MRT, and P20 to P30 for the LRT.
“In the case of the P25 MRT fare increase, it would be just like taking back the recent P22 wage adjustment, plus a lot more,” Herrera said.
He was referring to the increase in the statutory minimum wage for workers in Metro Manila that took effect only last July 1. The adjustment raised the daily floor wage by 5.8 percent, from P382 to P404.
Herrera said a worker now spending only P30 for a roundtrip MRT fare would have to spend an additional P50, or a total of P80 roundtrip.