The country’s biggest labor group, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), has filed a petition for a P470 increase in the daily minimum wage in Metro Manila, which would push the National Capital Region’s (NCR’s) daily minimum wage to a high of P1,007.
The group filed their petition at the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board-NCR office based in Manila, citing hunger, malnutrition, and the steep increase in the prices of fuel and other basic goods as reasons.
According to the Department of Labor and Employment’s National Wages and Productivity Commission, the daily minimum wage in the National Capital Region currently ranges from P500 to P537.
TUCP president Raymond Democrito Mendoza cited the increase due to hunger and malnutrition facing the more than five million minimum wage earners and their families in the region.
“Clearly, our minimum wage earners and their families have fallen from the category of low-income to newly poor. This is a sad commentary on the social condition in our country where those who break their backs to sustain and expand the economy are now wallowing in poverty,” Mendoza said in a statement.
“Wherefore, petitioner Trade Union Congress of the Philippines most respectfully prays for the granting of P470.00 daily wage increase for all private sector workers in the NCR to be given across-the-board since all need healthy food and are subject to the same changes in the prices of goods and services,” he said in a five-page petition.
Mendoza said the present monthly take-home pay of P12,843 of workers in the big city is far below the P16,625 per month poverty threshold for a family of five in the NCR.
He said since November 2018 when the last wage hike order was issued, prices of gasoline, diesel, and kerosene increased by as high as 41 percent, 24.51 percent, and 29.37 percent, respectively.
“The continuing increases in the price of oil triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the ensuing economic and digital war, will further push the prices of food and other essential items upwards,” he added.
Earlier, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III admitted the minimum wage in Metro Manila may no longer be enough for workers and their families due to the increase in the prices of basic goods.
Bello directed the RTWPBs across the country to speed up the review of the minimum wages to help workers and their families cope with the ongoing oil crisis.
“Every year, we have what we call an anniversary period where we make an assessment of all petitions received. One petition called for a uniform increase of P750 in the minimum wage nationwide,” he said previously.
However, the DOLE chief also said any petition to increase the minimum wage might force many establishments to shut down operations.
A petition to increase wages must be studied carefully as employers might not be able to afford it, Bello said, adding the interests of all parties should be considered before raising wages and any increase of wages might lead to a worse situation such as an increase in unemployment rate.
Deputy Speaker Bernadette Herrera welcomed Bello’s order to review minimum wages across the country amid soaring fuel prices.
“We fully support Secretary Bello’s directive to all regional wage boards to expedite the review of minimum wages to help workers and their families weather the current oil crisis,” Herrera, nominee of Bagong Henerasyon party-list group, said.
She added: “It’s time to raise the minimum wages. We need to provide hardworking Filipinos a lifeline as they suffer the dual shock of COVID-19 and oil price hikes.”
Bello had said the skyrocketing prices of oil products aggravated by the ongoing Ukraine crisis may be a compelling reason for the wage boards to recommend adjustments in the minimum wages.
The party-list lawmaker said she expects the RTWPBs to come up with “reasonable and acceptable wage hikes in their respective jurisdictions.”
“It’s imperative to provide workers and their families with the means to cope up with increasing costs of living, without hampering the growth and development of business and industry,” Herrera pointed out.
She expressed her willingness to help Bello or the Executive Department in easing the impact of rising oil prices on workers through legislation.
“If there’s anything I can do as a legislator, I want Secretary Bello and the Executive to know that they have my support and I’m very much willing to push in Congress whatever legislation they espouse that would provide relief to our workers in these trying times,” Herrera said.