The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is reviewing minimum wages across the country.
Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz mentioned the review when she went before the House Committee on Appropriations to defend the proposed P10.5-billion budget for her department.
Baldoz said DOLE is in the process of coming up with a formula that would set a minimum wage that is a little over the poverty income threshold but not too close to the average wage.
“We are looking at something that could meet the basic needs of a family of five, as well as promoting productivity-based increase,” she said.
Anakpawis Rep. Fernando Hicap raised the need to improve the plight of workers the minimum salary, especially in the agricultural sector where farm workers make do with a P150 to P180 daily income.
The daily minimum wage for agricultural workers ranges from P205 to P419.
“The P150 to P180 earnings are below the minimum wage level and even more behind what is needed to keep up with the rising cost of living. We need to do something about our labor standards,” Hicap, who represents a farmers’ group in Congress, said.
Baldoz agreed with Hicap, saying that agriculture workers deserve more attention because they are more vulnerable to natural disasters.
She admitted that the difficult situation in the agricultural sector gives rise to child labor. There are 2.9 million child workers, with half of them in the sugar industry.
“We are looking at improving the minimum wage for all workers, especially in the agriculture sector where productivity has not been high. We want these reforms to be sustainable,” Baldoz added.
LLANESCA T. PANTI