P184 wage hike sought for Metro workers

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THE Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has started public consultations on the proposal to increase the minimum wage in the National Capital Region (NCR) by P184.

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The Associated Labor Unions (ALU) that filed the petition claimed that the purchasing power of the present P491 daily minimum pay for NCR workers has sunk to P357, the lowest in three years.

The group cited figures from various government agencies in justifying its demand for a P184 across-the-board minimum wage hike for workers in the private sector.

It said that in 2015, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) set the Poverty Threshold Level or the standard amount needed by a family of five to survive in a month at P9,064 or P393 a day.

Based on updated figures dated May 22, 2017 from the National Wages and Productivity Board/Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity Boards and Philippine Statistics Authority, the value of the nominal P491 daily minimum wage in Metro Manila fell to P357.09.

For the Cordillera Autonomous Region, the nominal wage of P285 is only equivalent to P199.30, while in Region I, the value of the P280 minimum wage dropped to P202.17, in Region II, P300 to P197.76; Region III, P364 to P244.30; Region IV-A, P378.50 to P261.76; Region IV-B, P285 to P189.75; Region V, P265 to P172.30; Region VI, P323.50 to P208.71; Region VII, P366 to P241,27; Region VIII, P285 to P179.58; Region IX, P296 to P183.28; Region X, P318 to P200.13; Region XI, P340 to P214.92; Region XII, P295 to P188.26; Caraga, P280 to P168.37; and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, P265 to P158.78.

The group said the diminishing value of the minimum wage would have a dire impact on the productivity and health of workers and their families.

“A sinking purchasing power of workers’ daily wage means lowering of the quality and quantity of nutritious food that is so vital to workers’ productivity at his work and to his family. A lowered purchasing power will also affect the health of the children,” said ALU spokesperson Alan Tanjusay during the public consultation held in Quezon City.

Tanjusay said his group is asking a P184 wage increase because the present minimum wage in the NCR is insufficient to support a family amid the rising cost of prices of commodities and services.

If the group’s petition is approved, the daily wage of Metro Manila workers will go up to P675.

However, Tanjusay admitted that his group’s demand may again be rejected by the wage board.

“Its frustrating for us to file wage increase petition every time but the wage board is irrelevant and irresponsive, giving us a measly 10, 15, 20 pesos [wage increase in the past]. But the ALU has to do this every time because millions of minimum wage earners are voiceless and powerless. We have to represent them in the process,” he said.

The wage board is set to hold another public consultation on July 16.

Last year, the labor sector asked for a P125 across-the-board wage increase in the daily take home pay for workers in the private sectors but this was thumbed down by the DOLE.

The wage board granted a P10 wage hike in March 2016.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd said granting an across-the-board wage increase is not within the mandate of the DOLE.

“It is under the jurisdiction of Congress. It has to go through a legislative act,” Bello added.

Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity Boards are under the directive to conduct wage reviews and public consultations to determine possible wage adjustments in their respective jurisdictions.

Bello pointed out that any increase in wages will have implications on the cost of doing business, production, employment and prices. He said a simulation study made by the NEDA on the impact of a P125 wage increase showed that it could displace 500,000 workers and raise the unemployment rate to 7.3 percent.

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