P35 wage hike approved; labor groups furious

P35 wage hike approved; labor groups furious

P35 wage hike approved; labor groups furious

BENEFICIARIES Workers in this shoe workshop in Marikina City, as shown in this May 2023 photo, will benefit from the P35 minimum daily wage increase granted by the government for private businesses in Metro Manila. —Grig C. Montegrande

MANILA, Philippines — The government has approved a P35 increase in the daily minimum wage for workers in the National Capital Region (NCR), a decision widely criticized as an “insult” and a “disgrace” by labor groups and some opposition lawmakers.

The wage hike approved by the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board will raise the daily minimum pay from P610 to P645 for nonagricultural workers in Metro Manila. Wage Order No. NCR-25, signed on June 27 and published on Monday, will take effect 15 days after its publication.


The Department of Labor and Employment defended the increase, saying “the new rates, which translate to about 5.7-percent increase from the prevailing daily minimum wage rates in the region, remain above the latest regional poverty threshold for a family of five.”


READ: Labor group asks employers to grant wage hike: ‘P150 is just for coffee’

It added that the wage order was expected to directly benefit 988,243 minimum wage earners in Metro Manila, with potential indirect benefits for some 1.7 million full-time wage and salary workers earning above the minimum wage.

However, labor groups have expressed their “strong disappointment.”

The Nagkaisa labor group emphasized that the increase fell significantly short of the P150 daily wage hike proposed by the National Wage Coalition (NWC), which includes the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Nagkaisa and the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP).

In a statement, NWC called the increase a “disgrace.”

Nagkaisa pointed out that the minimal adjustment represented only 23.33 percent of the necessary wage recovery, or the amount needed to bring the minimum wage to a decent living wage level.


Pro-employer decision

For union president Joel Tongco of the Macalajar Labor Union-FFW (Federation of Free Workers) based at the Port Area of Cagayan de Oro City, it was “a tactic to divert attention from the growing and fervent advocacy for a P150 daily wage hike through legislation.”

“This wage order displays once again how insensitive the wage boards are to the plight of workers,” Tongco said.

“The NCR regional wage board proved once again to be so myopic. They opted to protect business profits rather than the bigger societal purpose of the wage increase,” added TUCP vice president Luis Corral.

He emphasized the broader implications of inadequate wages, citing alarming statistics: “According to Unicef Philippines, every day, 95 children in the Philippines die from malnutrition, and 27 out of 1,000 Filipino children do not get past their fifth birthday. A third of Filipino children are stunted or short for their age.”

KMU secretary general Jerome Adonis, for his part, said: “On the second anniversary of Marcos in office, his gift to the workers is a huge insult. He called for a wage review to address the workers’ call for a wage increase, then decided to give only P35. It’s not even enough for a kilo of rice.”

Labor groups have been pressing for more substantial action, including the passage of House Bill No. 7871, known as the Wage Recovery Act, which seeks a daily across-the-board P150 wage hike for all private sector workers. A P100 daily minimum wage hike bill was approved in the Senate in February.

House Assistant Minority Leader Arlene Brosas described the wage increase as “insulting to Filipino workers,” pointing out that it fell short of what families needed to live with dignity.

“This P35 increase is an insult to Filipino workers. It’s barely different from the P25 wage hike implemented way back in 1989, and lower than the P40 hike granted last year,” she stressed. “How can the government expect NCR workers to survive on P645 a day when the Family Living Wage stands at P1,200 and prices continue to accelerate?”

‘Thoroughly studied’

Meanwhile, a major group of employers said they would comply with the new minimum wage hike set in Metro Manila, despite it being more than the P15 to P20 increase they were pushing for.

“Since it was thoroughly studied and we were well-represented in the tripartite wage board, we will respect the decision,” Employers Confederation of the Philippines (Ecop) president Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. told the Inquirer on Monday.

The Ecop official said that the calculation was based on the impact of inflation on wages, as well as the carryover cushion provided by the P40 daily minimum wage hike approved last year.

Despite the group’s reception of the new wage order, Ortiz-Luis Jr. said that some quarters within the business community expressed their frustration about the measure.

“Although they are not our members, I have heard that micro businesses are the ones protesting that they will not be able to cope,” he said.

He noted that many of these businesses were in the retail and food services sector.

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From the perspective of a local consumer rights group, Malayang Konsyumer, the wage hike was a welcome development but not enough to empower consumers in today’s economic environment characterized by a continuous rise in the cost of goods. —with a report from Inquirer Research

TAGS: Employers Confederation of the Philippines, KMU, TUCP, wage hike

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