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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Meager wage hike

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When it comes to workers’ wages in the Philippines, how much is enough?

Well, as far as labor groups are concerned, it’s never enough—and apparently will never be adequate to keep body and soul together.

The recent decision of the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) in Metro Manila grants a P40 increase in the daily minimum wage of private sector workers in the National Capital Region.

This would bring the daily minimum wage of workers in the non-agriculture sector from P570 to P610, and from P533 to P573 for the agriculture sector, service and retail establishments employing 15 or less workers, and manufacturing establishments regularly employing less than 10 workers.

According to the Department of Labor and Employment, the wage hike, which will take effect on July 16, will “directly benefit” 1.1 million minimum wage earners in Metro Manila, while about 1.5 million full-time wage and salary workers earning above the minimum wage “may also indirectly benefit as a result of upward adjustments at the enterprise level arising from the correction of wage distortion.”

But this latest wage hike has been slammed by labor groups.

Two of these groups, the Kilusang Mayo Uno and Kilos Na Manggagawa, described the P40 wage hike as meager, and grossly insufficient to sustain the daily needs of their families.

The two labor groups urged the public to denounce the administration’s supposed lack of concern toward laborers.

They also called on the government to check the welfare of workers outside Metro Manila since the wage hike was only for Metro Manila.

But it’s not just workers themselves who are up in arms against the paltry wage increase.

Two senators, while saying the wage hike is a welcome development, also said it is still not enough.

A P40 increase in the daily minimum wage of private sector workers in Metro Manila is most welcome, but it is still not enough, said Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senator Jinggoy Estrada.

For one thing, the increase is much less than the P150 across-the-board minimum wage hike already approved in principle by the Senate committee on labor, employment and human resources development.

Estrada, who heads the Senate labor panel, while giving the thumbs-up to the wage increase, also noted that the labor sector has been adamant in calling for across-the-board pay hikes.

While the wage hike shows that the Wage Board in Metro Manila is aware of the need to promptly adjust the current wage structure because of high inflation, Estrada said, “our workers need and deserve wage hikes to cope with the ongoing rise in the prices of basic goods and commodities.”

We agree completely with the lawmaker, and wish the Senate would take up the legislative proposal again in the upper chamber, as our workers really need help at this time.

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