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Renewed push for legislated wage hike

Manila Standard

Do not underestimate the persistent push by the labor sector for government to grant an across-the-board hike in the daily minimum wage.

That may well be our unsolicited advice to the government as we believe labor groups from various political persuasions are unlikely to give up their petition for a legislated wage hike amid highly inflationary times.

The latest initiative along this direction is the move of a big labor organization, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, to ask the House of Representatives to pass House Bill 7871 or the Wage Recovery Act mandating an across-the-board ₱150 wage increase for all private sector workers.

Deputy Speaker Raymond Democrito Mendoza, the TUCP party-list representative in Congress, is relying on the support of several sectors for his group’s proposal for a P150-legislated wage increase.

The TUCP is hopeful his fellow legislators would listen to the economists, academics and civil society representatives who have shared compelling testimonies and expert insights in support of its proposed P150 legislated wage hike.

Mahar Mangahas, president of the Social Weather Stations, believes the minimum wage system is not working because “real wages are stagnant and not increasing.”

Emmanuel Leyco, an economist and former DSWD undersecretary, refuted the argument that wage hikes kill businesses and jobs.

“There is no record of closures because of wage increases. There are records of closures not because the wages increased, but because the competitiveness of certain businesses, simply, is not sustainable anymore,” he pointed out.

Benjamin Velasco of the University of the Philippines School of Labor and Industrial Relations (SOLAIR) cited a study showing “wage increases have no impact on employment” and that “given the right set of policies we can achieve the goal of wage recovery for workers and low unemployment.”

He added “the purported link between wage hikes and price hikes is grossly exaggerated, if not entirely fallacious.”

Another research by the Ateneo Policy Center said “it would require a daily budget of around ₱693.30 to be able to afford the main ingredients required to eat the Pinggang Pinoy cheapest healthy plate.”

However, the highest daily minimum wage in the country stands at a mere ₱610 in NCR and plunges as low as ₱361 in BARMM, and hence the current daily minimum wage is “clearly inadequate” to satisfy the government-prescribed daily healthy food guide Pinggang Pinoy, which perpetuates pandemic-level of poverty, hunger, and stunting among Filipinos, particularly children.

Given these, will our lawmakers agree to a legislated wage increase, or simply give way to employers’ groups that have raised strident objections to any wage increase at this time, claiming massive closures of mainly small and medium size enterprises?

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