Metro wage board convenes; hike very likely

Metro wage board convenes; hike very likely

By: - Reporter / @JeromeAningINQ
/ 05:42 AM June 21, 2024

Two workers’ coalitions pleaded their case for an increase in the daily minimum wage for workers before the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board-National Capital Region (RTWPB-NCR) on Thursday. The public hearing, held at the Occupational Safety and Health Center in Quezon City, tackled the separate petitions seeking an additional P579 and P750 in the current P610 daily minimum wage for Metro Manila workers.

The Unity for Wage Increase Now (Uwin) and Private Healthcare Workers Network (PHWN) cited in their petitions the inability of minimum wage earners to cope with inflation, saying the current wages were below the government’s poverty threshold and estimates of family living wages.

Uwin, which filed its petition on May 24, is composed of the Alliance of Nationalist and Genuine Labor Organizations, National Federation of Labor Unions, Genuine Labor Organization of Workers in Hotel, Restaurant and Allied Industries, and Gabay ng Unyon sa Telekomunikasyon at Serbisyo, among other groups.

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PWHN, which filed its petition on June 18, is comprised of the employees’ unions from St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City, Bonifacio Global City, Manila Doctors Hospital, and The Medical City.

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Employers’ reply

During the hearing, a representative from the Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines said the group recommends a P24 increase for nonagriculture workers and a P23 for agriculture workers.

On the other hand, a representative from the Confederation of Wearable Exporters of the Philippines (Conwep) asked for a yearlong moratorium on minimum wage increases to “allow exporters to fully recover [their] its export orders and preserve jobs … until orders are expected to stabilize by 2025.”

READ: Wage hike petitions filed in 4 more regions

Instead of raising the minimum wage, the Conwep representative said the industry would create a social-economic program to benefit its factory workers and provide them with needed assistance.

The National Wage Coalition (NWC), which has been pushing for a legislated P150 across-the-board wage increase proposed by the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), said it hopes the wage board would grant an increase based on the needs of workers, employers’ capacity to pay and the requirements of economic and social development, among others.

“The national spotlight is on the regional wage boards to give an increase of not less than P150 in a desperate attempt to remain relevant after 35 years of indifference, even amid supervening events, to the plight of Filipino working families,” the NWC said in a statement.

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The NWC also pointed out that since President Marcos has already called for the timely review of minimum wages and Congress has already forged ahead in raising workers’ wages, the question is no longer whether there will be a raise but how much and how soon that pay increase will be given.

The NWC is composed of the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino, Kilusang Mayo Uno, TUCP, and the umbrella group Nagkaisa Labor Coalition.

Labor chief reacts

At the Kapihan sa Manila Bay media forum on Wednesday, Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma said he was sure the wage board would raise minimum wages by July 16, the anniversary of the previous increase.

“Historically, when they (wage boards) deliberate, there will be an increase. Wage boards do not have the power or authority to, after deliberation, lower wages—then the more the workers would be angry at them,” he said.

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Nonetheless, Laguesma said any hike recommended by the wage board would be reviewed by the National Wages and Productivity Commission, which he chairs.

TAGS: minimum wages, wage hike

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