Labor group pushes review of wage board mechanisms
MANILA, Philippines — The Federation of Free Workers (FFW) is urging Congress to review the regional wage fixing mechanism for “unintentionally” creating wage disparities among laborers in different parts of the country.
According to FFW President Sonny Matula, the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards were established 35 years ago under the Wage Rationalization Act, or Republic Act No. 6727, originally intended to “foster economic balance through regional minimum wages.”
However, this instead created “significant disparities and discrimination among workers,” Matula, who ran in 2022 for senator but lost, said in a statement.
“The current setup has further exacerbated discrimination against workers in provincial and rural areas, especially those in agriculture, undermining the dignity of numerous Filipino workers,” he noted.
This, the lawyer pointed out, resulted in mass migration to Metro Manila, where the minimum wage is generally higher than in the provinces.
Matula, also the chair of Nagkaisa Labor Coalition, explained that while a P25 national wage increase was granted through RA 6727, it replaced a uniform national minimum wage with a “complex regional wage system.”
“This has not only complicated the wage structure but also caused confusion in its application, making it difficult for workers to stay informed of the varying minimum wages within even a single region or province,” his statement continued.
“Nagkaisa, therefore, urges Congress to review and amend the present regional wage fixing mechanism instituted under RA 6727 aimed at satisfying the constitutional mandate of granting workers a living wage — as mandated in Articles XIII and XV of the Constitution,” Matula said.
The labor leader emphasized that each Filipino’s needs are the same regardless of their region.
“The needs of families in NCR [National Capital Region], Calabarzon [Cavite, Laguna Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon], and BARMM [Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao] are not different,” the lawyer said.
At present, the daily minimum wage for nonagricultural work in the NCR is P573 to P610, P385 to P520 in Calabarzon, and P316 to P341, according to the Department of Labor and Employment-National Wages and Productivity Commission.
Meanwhile, Matula commended the Senate’s discussion and “likely approval” of a P100 daily nationwide minimum wage hike, calling it a “timely gift for workers on Valentine’s Day.”