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House studies P350 wage hike

Rio N. Araja

Lawmakers seek balance in helping workers, protecting MSMEs

The House of Representatives is studying proposals for a P150 to P350 increase in minimum wage, surpassing the P100 daily hike recently passed by the Senate, Zamboanga City Rep. Manuel Jose Dalipe.

“Our workers are enduring tough times, and as their representatives, it is imperative that we find substantial solutions to alleviate their financial burdens,” Dalipe said, noting that Filipinos are grappling with inflation and decreased purchasing power.

Speaker Martin Romualdez earlier tasked the House leadership to explore options for boosting workers’ take-home pay, including a legislated wage increase or revisions to the regional wage board system.

The House committee on labor and employment will prioritize reviewing existing wage hike proposals, including one from Trade Union Congress of the Philippines party-list Rep. Raymund Mendoza for a P150 across-the-board increase.

“The urgency of these discussions highlights the House’s dedication to timely and impactful legislative action,” Dalipe said.

Dalipe said while they appreciate the Senate’s efforts, the House believes a P100 increase is insufficient to address declining real wages and purchasing power.

He, however, underscored the importance of considering the impact on businesses, particularly micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

“While any increase is a step in the right direction, we must ensure that our legislative actions truly make a meaningful difference in the lives of our workers, particularly when considering the substantial challenges faced by the business sector, especially micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises,” the lawmaker said.

Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma earlier said DOLE is not against a legislated wage hike even as he cautioned against its possible impact on MSMEs and the economy in general.

Laguesma said when there are salary increases, the prices of basic goods and transport services also increase, describing it like a chain reaction.

“That’s why the DOLE is always looking for a balance. The DOLE is looking for possible interventions to help micro and small businesses in case the minimum wage increases by P100,” he added.

The Employers Confederation of the Philippines earlier warned a legislated wage hike could cause a “catastrophic effect on inflation.”

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) also appealed to Congress to let wage boards decide on wage increases rather than push for a legislated increase which it said would only benefit a few and disenfranchise other members of the labor force.

PCCI president Enunina Mangio said the proposed P100 legislated wage in the Senate will only benefit five million workers, while 47 million who are in the informal sector will be left behind.

“The P100 proposed wage will not even be enough when inflation goes up. Why don’t we instead legislate measures to address the rising cost in food prices and other issues that hamper our economic growth?” she said.

However, labor groups Partido Manggagawa (PM) and Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) said discussions on a legislated wage hike should be evidence-based.

“The latest Labor Force Survey shows that 49.2 percent, about half, of the total 50.5 million labor force, are 24.8 million workers employed in private firms. Of which, one fifth or 4.1 million are minimum wage earners. Another 13.8 million workers, about a quarter or 27.4 percent of the labor force, are self-employed with no employees,” PM chairman Rene Magtubo said.

He said the majority are informal workers like street vendors and tricycle drivers while a minority are middle-class professionals like doctors and lawyers.

Magtubo said three quarters of the labor force or more than 30 million workers stand to benefit from a wage hike.

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