Good news but… Metro Manila minimum pay up by P15
MANILA, Philippines–The good news is that minimum wage earners in Metro Manila will get a pay increase.
The bad news is that the increase is only P15 a day, not enough for even one (special) tricycle ride in the metropolis.
Close to 600,000 minimum wage earners in Metro Manila will get an additional P15 in their daily pay after the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) approved the proposal for an increase, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
The increase brings to P481 from P466 the daily minimum wage rate for workers in the region, DOLE-National Capital Region (NCR) Director Alex Avila said in a briefing. Metro Manila has the highest minimum wage among the 17 regions in the country.
Avila said the P15 increase in the minimum wage would directly benefit 587,000 minimum wage earners who also would continue to be exempted from paying income tax on their wage and on their hazard, holiday and overtime pay, and on their night-shift differential.
But the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) said the P15 increase was unacceptable.
“Is this how much the Department of Labor and Employment, the Department of Trade and Industry, and the National Economic and Development Authority—the majority members composing the wage board—reward Filipino workers who contributed to improve and sustain the country’s high economic growth under the Aquino administration for so many years?” TUCP spokesman Alan Tanjusay said in a statement.
Tanjusay said the amount was revolting. “Rather than closing the gap between rich and poor, government officials on the board have further widened the gaping inequality among Filipinos—between a few elite and a famished majority,” he added.
Citing government data, the TUCP said the real value of the current P466 minimum daily wage was P356.64, or P7,486.08 a month—short of the poverty threshold of P8,778 a month in 2014 for a family of five.
It was the TUCP that filed a petition seeking a P136-across-the-board daily wage increase early this month. In November last year, the Association of Minimum Wage Earners and Advocates filed a petition seeking a P146.80 across-the-board daily wage increase.
“Unfortunately, the RTWPB is not mandated to set across-the-board wage increases. Our mandate is to set minimum wages,” the board said when it took note of the petitions.
According to the RTWPB-NCR resolution granting the P15 increase in the daily basic minimum wage, the P15 cost of living allowance in effect since January 2014 will also continue.
DOLE spokesman Nicon Fameronag said the minimum wage increase was expected to be affirmed by the National Wages and Productivity Commission this week.
The increase will take effect 15 days after its publication in major dailies.
While the new minimum wage in Metro Manila has been raised to P481 for workers in the nonagriculture sector, workers in the agricultural sector will get a daily pay of just P444.
In issuing the new wage increase, Avila said the RTWPB—composed of representatives of labor and management, and the government—took into consideration several factors. These included the erosion of the minimum wage, inflation rate, possible impact of the wage adjustment on prices and on employment, employers’ ability to pay, and the results of its public hearings.
Avila expressed confidence that like the past year, employers would be able to bear the cost of the increase without hampering their viability for growth and expansion and, therefore, their ability to sustain employment creation.
In the latest minimum wage pay hike, Avila noted the removal from the list of establishments that may apply for a one-year exemption from the wage order.
The delisted firms must have total assets—including those arising from loans but exclusive of the land on which the establishments’ offices, plants and equipment are located—of not more than P3 million.
“Only distressed establishments, retail/service establishments regularly employing not more than 10 workers, and establishments adversely affected by natural calamities may apply for exemption and as determined by the RTWPB-NCR,” he said.
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