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Paltry pay hike

Manila Standard

“Furious” is how various labor groups felt after the announcement the government has approved a measly P35 increase in the daily minimum wage for workers in the National Capital Region.

The wage hike approved by the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board raised the daily minimum pay from P610 to P645 for non-agricultural workers in Metro Manila.

As expected, the Department of Labor and Employment defended the increase, saying the new rates, which translate to about 5.7 percent increase from the prevailing daily minimum wage rates in the region, remain above the latest regional poverty threshold for a family of five.

The wage order, DOLE said, will directly benefit 988,243 minimum wage earners in Metro Manila, with potential indirect benefits for some 1.7 million full-time wage and salary workers earning above the minimum wage.

Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma said Tuesday those dissatisfied with the P35 per day pay increase approved by the NCR Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board have until July 11 to appeal it before the National Wages and Productivity Commission.

The Employers Confederation of the Philippines said they would comply with the new minimum wage hike set in Metro Manila despite the fact that it is more than the P15 to P20 increase they were pushing for.

Labor groups have expressed “strong disappointment” with the wage hike.

The Nagkaisa labor group emphasized the increase fell significantly short of the P150 daily wage hike proposed by the National Wage Coalition.

Nagkaisa pointed out the minimal adjustment represented only 23.33 percent of the necessary wage recovery, or the amount needed to bring the minimum wage to a decent living wage level.

The Federation of Free Workers also slammed the wage hike as “a tactic to divert attention from the growing and fervent advocacy for a P150 daily wage hike through legislation…It displays once again how insensitive the wage boards are to the plight of workers.”

For its part, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines said the NCR regional wage board “proved once again to be so myopic and opted to protect business profits rather than the bigger societal purpose of the wage increase.

The militant Kilusang Mayo Uno also pointed out the P35 wage increase “is not even enough for a kilo of rice.”

Labor groups had been pressing for more substantial action, including the passage of House Bill 7871, known as the Wage Recovery Act, which seeks a daily across-the-board P150 wage hike for all private sector workers.

House Assistant Minority Leader Arlene Brosas of the Makabayan bloc asked: “How can the government expect NCR workers to survive on P645 a day when the Family Living Wage stands at P1,200 and when prices continue to accelerate.”

We can understand the sentiments of the labor sector over the measly wage hike and hope that government can come up with an acceptable pay hike and perhaps non-wage benefits that would allow the labor sector to cope with their economic difficulties.

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