Employers okay to P33 pay hike but ask to spare micro businesses

Employers agreed to raise wages in accordance with the proposed daily wage hike P33 of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) but sought the exclusion of micro enterprises from the proposed wage increase.

WORKING CLASS. Commuters pass by a mural in Paco, Manila depicting images of workers on Monday, May 16, 2022. Workers in the National Capital Region will get an additional P33 to their daily wage. Norman Cruz

Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) president Sergio Ortiz-Luis said micro businesses are not financially sustainable at this time since many have just restarted their businesses.

“Micro enterprises are not our members but we feel that they are not up to the challenge. They have less capital, less financial muscle, and profitability during these times is still uncertain. Therefore, we suggest that they be exempted from the wage increase,” he said in his capacity as chairman emeritus of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI).

Ortiz-Luis said while DOLE defines micro entrepreneurs based on the number of workers employed, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) categorizes micro enterprises based on capitalization.

The DOLE considers a company with 10 or fewer employees as being a micro enterprise while the DTI puts companies with a capitalization of P3 million or less in this category.

In the Philippines, about 90 percent of the industries are micro enterprises and 65 percent of overall employees are from the micro industries.

Ortiz-Luiz noted that while many small industries are still struggling to survive the effects of the pandemic, these industries will try to cooperate with the Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board in Metro Manila and Western Visayas.

With about P1,300 wage augmentation monthly, including other monthly dues, some employers or company owners would certainly oppose the proposal.

“It will be difficult to balance out the sentiments of employers and wage earners given that we’re still in a crisis. But since the die is cast, we all have to do our best and comply with the decision,” Ortiz-Luiz said.

With the approval by the Wage Board of the P33 hike, the minimum daily wage will increase to P570 in Metro Manila for the non-agriculture sector and P533 for agriculture sector.

The last wage order for workers in private enterprises in Metro Manila was on Nov. 22, 2018.

Various labor groups opposed the call of employers for exemption and deferment of the minimum wage hikes for workers in the National Capital Region and Western Visayas, saying this was an insult to workers who will receive a measly P33 and P55 wage hike for the NCR and Western Visayas workers, respectively.

The Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards approved a P33 daily hike for NCR workers while those in Western Visayas (Region 6) will receive an increase of P55 up to P110.

According to Partido Manggagawa (PM), the minimum wage increases are not even enough to recover the value lost to inflation for the past three years.

“If the hikes are deferred and employers exempted then the most vulnerable workers are left with nothing,” Rene Magtubo, PM national chairman said.

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) said that the wage hikes granted for workers in the NCR and Region 6 are “good news” but are “too small and too insignificant,” which have no impact on improving the lives of workers and their families amid the increases in prices of food and services.

“The grant of daily minimum wage increases of P33 in NCR, and P55 to P110 in Region 6 are ridiculously low and are unfair to workers,” TUCP President Raymond Mendoza said, adding “workers will be again made to sacrifice, but where is the burden-sharing of government and the business sector?”

Mendoza said the wage boards did not reckon with April inflation of 4.9 percent and the projected inflation of 5.5 percent in June.

“Although the additional P33/day or P858/month increase in NCR minimum wage will somehow help our workers, there is no restoration of the purchasing power, as claimed by the board,” Mendoza said. “This is not enough.”

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III thanked the wage boards for heeding the call to expedite the review of the current minimum wage in their respective regions.

“It is expected to protect around 1 million minimum wage earners in private establishments in the region from undue low pay. The increase considered the restoration of the purchasing power of minimum wage earners because of the escalating prices of basic goods, commodities, and petroleum products,” Bello said.

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