A P21 INCREASE on top of the existing P491 daily minimum wage for workers in Metro Manila was approved on Thursday, Sept. 14, according to a labor alliance and two stakeholders who took part in the vote in the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB).
But an official of the board who was sought for comment to confirm this development has not replied as of Thursday evening.
Also sought for comment, Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECoP) President Donald G. Dee in a telephone interview said he voted against the proposed increase.
Mr. Dee said “nobody (is) happy” with the increase. “Labor says they will go to PRRD (President Rodrigo R. Duterte), (and) on employer side, we will be making proposals to improve the purchasing power of the peso.”
“What I am saying is we cannot put (the) burden of all inefficiency in our economy on wages,” Mr. Dee also said, adding:
“If we do not correct this situation, we cannot expect to get more investments.”
Affirming Mr. Dee’s remarks about Mr. Duterte’s possible assistance, spokesperson Alan A. Tanjusay of the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) said in a statement: “We have no other choice but to come and ask President Duterte to grant our long-standing request…to provide a P500 monthly CCT (Conditional Cash Transfer)-like cash voucher subsidy to minimum-waged workers who helped build our high economic growth.”
“The P21 increase in daily wage remains insufficient for families to cope with rising prices of goods and increasing costs of goods. P21 is only 4.27% of the current P491. So it obviously did not lift workers out of poverty. Workers who helped built a high economic growth of 6.9% average Gross Domestic Product do not deserve this very small amount,” he added.
TUCP Vice-President Angelita D. Senorin, who also took part in the vote, said in a text message “the increase is inadequate to the needs of the workers.”
“But remember that the board is a collegial body and in this case labor is always minority. The increase amount is based on the latest CPI (consumer price index) and IR (inflation rate) presented by NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority),” she added.
Also sought for comment, TUCP General Emeritus Cedric R. Bagtas said in an online message: “The regional board missed an opportunity to escape from the flawed decades-old wage determination tied only to keeping in step with inflation.”
Last June, ALU-TUCP and another labor alliance, the Association of Minimum Wage Earners and Advocates-Philippine Trade and General Workers Organizations, petitioned, respectively, for an across-the-board wage increase of P184, and an across-the-board increase of P175 in four tranches. TUCP had also filed a separate petition of P259 for all workers including those inthe Barangay Micro Business Enterprise (BMBE). — Mario M. Banzon