The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Saturday announced that the National Capital Region (NCR) and Western Visayas wage boards have approved upward adjustments in the minimum wages of workers in their respective regions.
In a statement, the DOLE said the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB)-NCR issued Wage Order No. NCR-23 on May 13, 2022.
The said order granted a wage increase of P33 bringing the new minimum wage rate to P570 for workers in the non-agriculture sector, and P533 for workers in the agriculture sector, the DOLE said.
“It is expected to protect around one million minimum wage earners in private establishments in the region from undue low pay. The increase considered the restoration of the purchasing power of minimum wage earners because of the escalating prices of basic goods, commodities, and petroleum products,” it said.
The last wage order for workers in private establishments in NCR took effect on November 22, 2018.
The approved minimum wage hike, however, is a far cry from the minimum wage hike petitions filed by the Unity for Wage Increase Now (UWIN) on November 25, 2019 and Metro East Labor Federation (MELF) on March 4, 2022, both seeking P213 increase, and another one from the Solidarity of Unions in the Philippines for Empowerment and Reforms (SUPER) on March 4, 2022 with a proposed increase ranging from P213 to P250.
It is also lower than the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines’ (TUCP) appeal for a P470 increase in NCR's daily minimum wage to make it P1,007, which was ultimately rejected by the RTWPB-NCR.
In a statement, Labor group Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) slammed the P33 approved minimum wage increase as “a pittance and woefully inadequate.”
“It is not even enough to allow workers to recover the lost value of their wages,” SENTRO said.
Citing data from the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC), the labor group said that as early as February 2022, real wage eroded by P43.
“Wage erosion worsened since then. After all, the inflation rate in April 2022 in the NCR climbed to 4.4 percent and 5.1 percent outside NCR. Once again, the RTWPBs has failed the workers. It is high time we abolish it and go back to a national wage setting mechanism,” SENTRO said.
Think tank IBON Foundation also said that the increase was not enough as it was still far from the P1,080 family living wage.
“‘Yung P33 na ‘yan, hindi sasapat na bawiin ‘yung pagtaas ng presyo ng bilihin mula nung start of Duterte administration,” IBON Foundation executive director Sonny Africa said in Jonathan Andal's report on "24 Oras Weekend."
(P33 will not be enough to compensate for the increase in commodity prices since the start of the Duterte administration.)
The Employers' Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) said that while large businesses could implement such an increase, small businesses, particularly those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, may struggle to absorb the additional labor costs.
“Ang wino-worry lang namin talaga, ‘yung mga micro eh. Baka ma-discourage na magbukas ‘yung iba at ‘yun namang iba baka hindi mag-expand,” ECOP president Sergio Ortiz-Luis, Jr. said.
(The only thing we really worry about are the micro-businesses. Others may be discouraged from opening up, and others may not expand.)
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III earlier ordered RTWPBs across the country to review minimum wages.
Bello had said the current P537 daily minimum wage in the NCR may no longer be enough to cover commodities such as food, electricity, and water bills.
There were 10 wage hike petitions filed with six regional wage boards involving the NCR, Regions 3, 4A, 6, 7, and 8.
Meanwhile, the RTWPB-VI issued Wage Order No. RBVI-26.
The Western Visayas wage board’s latest order provides a wage increase for workers in the non-agriculture, industrial and commercial establishments of P55 and P110, bringing the daily minimum wage in the region to P450 and P420 for those employing more than 10 workers and those employing 10 or less workers, respectively.
“In addition, the Board granted a P95 increase for workers in the agriculture sector bringing the daily minimum wage to P410,” the DOLE said.
The minimum wage hike in the Western Visayas is expected to protect around 214,836 minimum wage earners in private establishments in the region from undue low pay, according to the Labor department.
“The increase considered the restoration of the purchasing power of minimum wage earners because of the escalating prices of basic goods, commodities, and petroleum products as well as to bring the minimum wage rate above the 2021 first semester poverty threshold,” it said.
Additionally, the DOLE said the Western Visayas wage board issued Wage Order No. RBVI-DW-04 which provided a wage increase of P500 bringing the new monthly minimum wage rate for domestic workers to P4,500.
The wage order is expected to benefit 160,795 domestic workers, comprising 49,413 live-in and 111,382 live-out.
“The last Wage Order for workers in private establishments and for domestic workers in Western Visayas took effect on November 26, 2019 and May 8, 2019, respectively,” the DOLE said.
The DOLE said the NCR and Western Visayas wage orders will be submitted to the National Wages and Productivity Commission for review, and shall take effect 15 days after publication in a newspaper of general circulation. —KG/VBL, GMA News