Metro Manila workers expect at least P20 minimum wage hike in October

MANILA, Philippines – Metro Manila minimum wage earners can expect at least a P20 increase in their daily pay late October.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the wage order that sets the minimum wage at P512 in the capital region is expiring in October 5.

"It could be [a] minimum of P20 and above. That's within the range," Bello said in a media briefing Thursday, September 27.

The regional wage board will soon call for a hearing with concerned government agencies, stakeholders in the private sector, as well labor groups.

Bello said the increase will depend on what will be discussed during the public hearing. The pay hike will be effective immediately once a resolution is decided.

He also said that the interests of the stakeholders need to be balanced or else "it's workers that will suffer."

"We have to balance the interest of management and also the labor. You cannot give a very high wage hike to the workers. It will only help in the short term. Eventually business will close with that set up, and that would take away jobs," Bello said.

Based on Republic Act No. 6727 or the Wage Rationalization Act, each region in the Philippines has a unique minimum wage set by the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards based on the poverty threshold, employment rate, and cost of living specific to the region.

Under the law, wage orders determine how much the minimum wage would be within a period of 12 months.

Measly amount

Some labor groups found the increase of P20 per day a "measly" amount, amid high prices of goods. Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) said the amount is "demeaning."

"With the kind of extraordinary inflation that we have, it’s demeaning. It’s insensitive…The wage board will (be) further ostracizing themselves from the workers. The board will continue to become irrelevant and obsolete," Tanjusay said in a statement.

Labor group Sentro said that at least a P28.17 hike is needed to "recover from the lost value" brought by inflation. They insisted that a "real increase" be provided as prices of goods are still seen to increase later within the year.

"[S]ince prices are still expected to increase until the end of the year, minimum wage will continue to be eroded. Thus, a P20 increase may not be enough to maintain the purchasing power of workers from last year," Czar Joseph Castillo said, the resident economist of Sentro.

Several other regions had new wage orders this year, with Davao receiving as much as P56.43 increase and Western Visayas receiving a P41.50 hike.

Some labor groups are calling for around P750 to P832 daily wage for workers to be able to live a "decent life." Kilusang Mayo Uno has demanded for a national daily minimum wage to be set at P750.

Back in September 2016, Bello said the government was considering a national minimum wage law which would adjust minimum salaries comparable to Metro Manila. (READ: Is it time for a national minimum wage?) – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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