Board takes up wage hike in Metro | Inquirer News

Board takes up wage hike in Metro

MANILA, Philippines – The National Capital Region (NCR) wage board yesterday began its public hearings on the proposed minimum salary hike for Metro Manila workers.

Raymundo Agravante, chair of the NCR wage board, said they were planning to come out with a decision next week after President Aquino on Labor Day ordered regional wage boards to hasten their proceedings.

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“We’ve calendared that. It has long been set by the board to issue the wage order next week,” Agravante said.

He added, however, that everyone would have to wait until after the hearings to see if a pay hike order could come out by next week.

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“Let us first see what will happen in our public hearing,” Agravante said.

Labor officials earlier said that the wage board could come out with a ruling by the middle of the month on a petition filed by the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) which is seeking a P75 salary hike for workers in the metropolis.

The minimum pay in the NCR was last raised in July 2010 when the wage board implemented an increase of P22.

The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), meanwhile, urged the Metro Manila regional wage board to immediately grant the TUCP petition.

“We ask the wage board to break expectations and approve the P75 petition since our study reveals that the cost of living for a family of six in Metro Manila as of March this year is already P1,010 a day,” said Renato Magtubo, PM national chair.

He also criticized the President for not giving workers even nonwage benefits on May 1.

“Private sector workers got nada from PNoy (Aquino). PNoy did not really break bread with labor but he broke tradition by giving nothing to workers, not even a consuelo de bobo of nonwage benefits,” Magtubo said.

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He added, “Even if [the] NCR wage board approves the P75 petition, it will not be enough to bridge the huge gap between the minimum wage and the cost of living. The disparity between the P404 minimum wage and the cost of living is P606 or 150 percent of the ordinary wage.”

“Even if two members [of the family] work—which is the buy one, take one policy of the government—then their combined income will not be enough to feed the entire family,” Magtubo added.

He said PM arrived at its cost of living figure using its April 2010 survey of the daily cost of living and the National Statistics Office’s 2.6 percent estimate of the inflation rate from April 2010 to March this year.

“Our estimate is already an understatement since the rise in prices has been accelerating since March,” Magtubo said.

On the other hand, members of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) held a rally in front of the Department of Labor and Employment office in Intramuros, Manila, and called for the immediate abolition of regional wage boards (RWBs).

The group said that for the past two decades of the boards’ existence, “no meaningful and substantial wage hikes [have been] implemented.”

“The RWB is … why realization of the growing clamor for a P125 wage hike remains elusive. Through the RWB, [Aquino] has [an] excuse [for not implementing] a P125 wage increase despite the rising cost of oil, petroleum products, food and other basic commodities and services,” said Roy Velez, KMU-NCR chair.

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