Philippine labor

DOLE: Minimum wage hikes approved in NCR, Western Visayas

Michelle Abad
DOLE: Minimum wage hikes approved in NCR, Western Visayas

WORKERS. Construction workers fix metal rods at a construction site in Pasig City, January 9, 2019.

Rappler

(1st UPDATE) NCR minimum wage workers will see a daily increase of P33, which the labor department says 'is expected to protect around 1 million minimum wage earners in private establishments in the region from undue low pay.’ Labor groups say it’s not enough.

MANILA, Philippines (1st UPDATE) – The regional wage boards have approved wage increases of P33 for Metro Manila, and P55 and P110 for Western Visayas, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) announced on Saturday, May 14.

Metro Manila’s Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board issued Order No. NCR-23 on Friday, May 13, granting a wage increase of P33, bringing the new minimum wage in the capital region to P570 and P533 for workers in non-argricultural and agricultural sectors, respectively.

According to the DOLE, the wage increases are expected to protect around 1 million minimum wage earners in Metro Manila “from undue low pay.” The board considered the restoration of workers’ purchasing power in relation to escalating prices of basic goods, commodities, and petroleum products.

The last time Metro Manila private establishment workers got a wage increase was in November 2018.

Meanwhile, the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board in Western Visayas issued Order No. RBVI-26, providing a wage increase for workers in the agriculture, industrial, and commercial establishments of P55 and P110.

The increases bring the daily minimum wage in the region to P450 for businesses employing more than 10 workers, and P420 for establishments employing 10 or less workers.

The Western Visayas board also granted a P95 increase for workers in the agriculture sector, bringing their daily minimum wage to P410.

The wage hikes are expected to protect around 214,836 minimum wage earners in private establishments in the region. Apart from considering the price hikes of goods, just like in Metro Manila, the Western Visayas wage board also sought to raise the minimum wage rate above the 2021 first semester poverty threshold.

The poverty threshold for the first semester of 2021 was estimated at P12,082, on average, for a family of five per month, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority. A worker in the agriculture sector in Western Visayas with this wage hike would be earning a minimum of around P12,300 per month.

Additionally, the Western Visayas wage board approved a P500-increase for domestic workers, bringing their new minimum monthly wage to P4,500. The DOLE said this is expected to benefit 160,795 domestic workers – 49,413 with a live-in set-up, and 111,382 live-out workers.

The last wage hike for domestic workers and private establishment workers in Western Visayas was in May 2019 and November 2019, respectively.

The wage increases are expected to take effect 15 days after the orders were issued.

Labor group SENTRO (Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa) in a statement on Saturday said that the wage hike in Metro Manila was not enough. (READ: Wage hike like ‘crumbs’: Labor groups again push for national minimum wage)

“The P33 wage increase is a pittance and woefully inadequate. It is not even enough to allow workers to recover the lost value of their wages,” they said.

Citing the National Wages Productivity Commission, SENTRO said that as early as February 2022, real wage eroded by P43, and has been worsening since then. The inflation rate in April also climbed to 4.4% in Metro Manila, and 5.1% outside the capital region.

“Once again, the [regional wage boards have] failed the workers. It is high time we abolish it and go back to a national wage setting mechanism,” SENTRO said.

Groups in the labor sector have been demanding for a P750 national minimum daily wage for several years. The bill seeking the institutionalize a P750 national minimum daily wage, filed by the progressive Makabayan bloc, remains pending with the 18th Congress. – Rappler.com

Michelle Abad

Michelle Abad is a researcher-writer at Rappler. Possessing the heart and soul of a feminist, she is working on specializing in women's issues in Newsbreak, Rappler's investigative arm.