ECOP: P150 pay hike only helps 16% of workers, gov’t has ‘no budget’ to shoulder 84%
MANILA, Philippines — The government has no budget and programs that would support the 84% of workers in the country who would not be covered by the proposed P150 wage increase, the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) said Wednesday.
ECOP president Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. is referring to a bill seeking to increase by P150 the daily wage hike of all workers in the private sector, saying this pay hike would only cover 16% of the million workers nationwide.
Meanwhile, the remaining 84% of the workers, who are in the informal sector such as farmers, fisherfolks, market vendors, and public utility drivers, would not be affected.
“Kaya ba ibigay ng gobyerno ‘yon or mayroon bang programa ang gobyerno ro’n? […] Kapag gobyerno ang magbibigay n’yan trillion ‘yan. Hindi kaya ng budget natin ‘yan,” Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr., president of ECOP, said at the Laging Handa public briefing.
(Can the government provide, or does it have programs for that? If the government provides, it will cost a trillion. Our budget cannot afford that.)
Should the pay hike be approved, it, he stressed, would create a wage gap between the workers in the two sectors.
“Pag nagtaas ka ng suweldo, sino magtataas ng sweldo nila eh 84 percent sila na mga manggagawa. So, kung itataas mo ‘yong 16 percent, eh anong ginawa mo? Eh ‘di inilayo mo lang ‘yong kita no’ng mga informal sectors sa formal sectors. ‘Yong nasa mga formal sectors tinataasan mo, eh may regular ang trabaho ang karamihan doon,” Ortiz-Luis said.
(If you raise the wage, who would do that to the 84 percent of workers? So, if you increase the wage of those 16 percent, what have you done? You only created a wage gap between the informal and formal sectors. You’re trying to increase the wage in the informal sector when most of them have regular jobs.)
While Ortiz-Luis said he trusts Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, one of the authors of the Across-the-Board Wage Increase Act of 2023 that pushes for the P150 pay hike for private sectors across the country, he pointed out that maybe other concerned government agencies were not consulted yet.
According to him, these include the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and employer sectors.
When asked how the government would help workers if the wage increase would not be possible, he said that big companies could increase their benefits.
However, he added that this again would circle back to the 84 percent of workers who don’t have an employer.
“Hindi lang ‘yon ang pinag-uusapan, ‘yon may mga employers ‘yong mga ‘yon. ‘Yong sinasabi, ang pinakaimportante sagutin, 84 percent walang employers. Sagot ba ng gobyerno ‘yon,” he stressed.
(We’re not only talking about that because those workers have employers. What is being pointed out and the most important to address is the 84 percent who don’t have employers. Will the government shoulder them?).
In 2022, Ortiz-Luis pointed out that he had no problem with the wage increase, but again, he said that this would only affect a small percentage of the workers in the country. — Maria Liezl Projella, INQUIRER.net trainee