As prices of basic commodities continue to increase, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has ordered a review for a possible minimum wage increase next year.
According to Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma, the Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity Boards are obligated to conduct a review to “keep pace with whatever developments in the work sector.”
The DOLE has started to pitch the idea to the private sector regarding the issue. However, he noted that minimum wage adjustments could be implemented only once a year.
The last wage hikes were granted in 14 regions in June this year.
Increasing the daily take-home pay of minimum wage earners will be a “very tough balancing act,” Laguesma told ABS-CBN News, as small businesses are still reeling from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The DOLE chief said a possible wage increase may also have an adverse effect on the labor market.
Inflation hit 7.7 percent in October, which is the highest in nearly 14 years, largely due to higher food and transport costs. In September, around 2.5 million Filipinos are unemployed.
Senator Risa Hontiveros, meanwhile, said Malacanang should work more closely with lawmakers for new laws and policies to increase workers’ wages and accelerate job creation across the country.
These moves, she said, will help Filipinos cope with runaway inflation.
While she welcomes the wage review order of the DOLE, the opposition senator emphasized that new laws on raising workers’ pay and speeding up the creation of gainful livelihood should be part of the new Common Legislative Agenda (CLA).
CLA bills are measures identified by both Malacanang and members of Congress as priority legislation via the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC).
Hontiveros said everyone is affected by inflation, but its worst effects are felt the most by low-wage earners, as well as freelance workers, or those who have lost their jobs or livelihood.
“The wages of workers should be increased. We must be more active in the creation of jobs in the entire country,” she also said.
Swift government response on those issues, the senator stated, is needed, through new laws or executive issuances.
Hontiveros explained that including wage hikes and job creation as part of the priority legislative agenda of the LEDAC ensures that these policy issues will receive immediate government attention and action.
She pointed out that the existing list of around 30 priority bills, as identified in a LEDAC meeting last October, does not include any new proposed laws that will directly raise workers’ pay or foster job creation.
In addition, Hontiveros said that government should also study the implications of proposed wage hikes on the situation of millions of workers in the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) sector, who are excluded by existing laws from the coverage of minimum wage regulations.
The senator added that while the unemployment rate dropped to 5% in September, the latest labor force survey showed a higher underemployment rate of 15.4%. Macon Ramos-Araneta