Philippine labor

Labor leaders highlight proposed wage hikes on Labor Day 2024

Michelle Abad

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Labor leaders highlight proposed wage hikes on Labor Day 2024

Various groups of workers, public transport drivers and their supporters gather along Espana Blvd in Manila for a protest march to Mendiola on Labor Day, May 1, 2024.


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MANILA, Philippines – Of the various issues the labor sector has consistently called attention to, a number of groups during a mobilization in Manila on Labor Day, Wednesday, May 1, emphasized the need to increase the pay of minimum wage earners.

There are several bills being tackled in the 19th Congress seeking a national, across-the-board minimum wage increase for private sector workers. The proponents of these span across political alliances, from the opposition to the administration-aligned lawmakers. 

The Senate in February passed the bill seeking a P100 increase, while several versions remain pending at the committee level of the House of Representatives.

Nararapat lang na tumugon din ng House of Representatives sa pangangailangan ng panahon (The House of Representatives must respond to the needs of our time),” said Mark Villena, advocacy officer of the Associated Labor Unions in the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) at a rally program along Nicanor Reyes Street. 

Pinatunayan ang mga ekonomista at iba’t-ibang dalubhasang akademiko na ang dagdag-sahod hindi nangangahalugang pagtaas ng presyo kaagad sa merkado… Sa halip, ang kaginhawaang hatid ng dagdag-sahod [ay] hindi lang makadagdag sa pagiging produktibo nating mga manggagawa kundi makapagpapasigla pa ito ng ating ekonomiya,” said Villena. (READ: Can the Philippines afford a P100 national minimum wage hike?)

(Economists and academics have found that wage increases do not cause market prices to spike… instead, the benefits of increasing wages include increased productivity and spurred economic growth.)

The TUCP has a representative in the House – Deputy Speaker Raymond Mendoza.

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According to Josua Mata, secretary general of Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO), the wage system has “severely failed” the working class for decades. At present, regional wage boards set the minimum wages per region.

“Rather than rationalize the wage in our country, it has led to a dismal situation where many wage levels nationwide, when summed up, are below the poverty threshold for a family of five,” said Josua Mata, secretary general of Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa.

Judy Miranda of the NAGKAISA labor coalition noted the gendered effects of low wages for women who budget the food for their families.

Napakahalaga nitong wage recovery na ito dahil sa dati, sa basket of goods ng mga kababaihan natin ay nakakabili pa ang ating suweldo ng sapat na bigas, pagkain, pero ngayon ay… [halos] tatlong kilong bigas na nawawala sa atin,” she said.

(Wage recovery is so important now, because the basket of goods a woman was able to afford before could accommodate enough rice and other food, but now, we cannot afford around three kilos of rice that we were able to buy before.)

Labor leaders highlight proposed wage hikes on Labor Day 2024

Earlier on Wednesday, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. ordered the Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity Boards (RTWPBs) to review minimum wages in their expected regions, even if labor groups have been calling for a national wage hike.

“[The RTWPBs] have failed to resolve the pervasive problem of low wages and discrimination against workers employed in the regions who have very low wages,” Sonny Matula, president of the Federation of Free Workers, said in a statement.

Labor groups have also long been calling for a dialogue with the President. On Wednesday morning, Marcos invited labor leaders to a Labor Day program in Malacañang, but according to Mata, the invitation was not the dialogue they were looking for.

“Many of us were invited… [but] it turns out that it’s not a dialogue. They invited us to be an audience for their Labor Day program. That’s not what we have been asking for,” said Mata.

In Metro Manila, the present minimum daily wage is P610 for non-agriculture workers. But as of March, the IBON Foundation determined the family living wage in the capital region, or the wage needed by a family of five to live comfortably, is almost double at P1,197. –

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Michelle Abad

Michelle Abad is a multimedia reporter at Rappler. She covers the rights of women and children, migrant Filipinos, and labor.