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The wage commission has held a public hearing recently. The workers and a group of employers with the sole aim of arriving at a conclusion on what the minimum wage should be and what wouldn’t be acceptable to the group of employers and workers.
On the conclusion of the meeting, the NWPC director- Ana Dione, promised that the wage increase will happen very soon. There are strong speculations that the increase will be announced before the end of the year 2018 or in the first quarter of 2019.
With the inflation rate in the Philippine reaching an all-time 9 year high of 6.7% in September 2018, workers group across the country have been demanding for an increase in wages, not only in Manilla, Metro but across all major cities in the country. The workers are citing the ever-rising cost of living, as the main reasons for making such demands.
This increase will be in the best interest of workers in Manilla Metro area. Even though, it is against a ₱20 increased that was earlier proposed by the Labor Department.
According to Silvestre Bello, the labour secretary, the demand for ₱334 minimum increase in workers’ wages in Manilla Metro is not feasible, considering the enormous strain such an increase will put on the 2019 proposed budget. The last time an increase was affected by the minimum wage in Metro Manilla was on the 5th of October, 2017, and the current minimum wage stands at ₱517.
Metro Manilla workers stage protests over a proposed ₱20 increase in the minimum wage
There have been major protests across Manilla Metro since a proposed increase of ₱20 on minimum wage has been announced by the government. The members of the Akbayan party had criticized the labour department of the Philippine for a proposed ₱20 increase on minimum wage which is a far cry from the expected or recommended ₱320 from labour unions. Many workers had also joined the “Kalampag” protests which are a protest characterized by the banging of pans and pots together or, on the ground. The workers had also referred to the proposed Labor department wage increase as an absolute embarrassment to them.
According to Nellisa Balarao, one of the protesters, the proposed ₱20 increase will not reflect significantly on the wages, as a matter of fact, it will be gone with two “jeepney rides”.
It is believed that the ongoing protests by workers in Manilla Philippine may boomerang into something more serious if a resolution on a wage increase is not arrived at, as soon as possible. The prices of basic goods, especially foodstuffs, are on a sharp increase, the TUCP (Trade Union Congress of the Philippine) believes anything less than ₱320 increase will be rejected.
According to Raymond Mendoza, the representative of the TUCP, he has decided to file a house bill7805 in the Philippine parliament, to ensure that the increase of ₱320 is legalized. It is believed that the pay hike will benefit all workers, in both the public and the private sector.
One of the concerns that have been raised by the Labor Department is that a high increase in minimum wage in Metro Manilla will trigger a series of protests in other provinces of the country. According to Vincent Camilon Jr. The spokesperson of TUCP, Philippine workers actually deserve a minimum wage increase of 320 Peso, considering the fact that it has been almost 30 years since the last pay hike was passed under the law.
Since the government of Philippine passed the wage rationalization Act, in 1989, the regional boards on wages have only approved minimal increases on the wages and salaries of workers. It appears the labour department is unshaken by the recent protests. It has ordered the wage boards to begin the implementation of an upward review in salaries and wages of workers, in all the regions of the country, amidst the ever-rising costs of goods and services. It is still unclear whether the Labor Department will only approve the 20 Peso increase.
According to the Labor under-secretary, the regions that are already long over-due for a minimum wage increase are the Davao, Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, and Central Luzon. It has been over a year since there was an upward review in the wages in these regions.
The TUCP spokesperson had arrived at ₱320 minimum increase proposition, after the computation made on the effect of inflation. Aside from inflation, the government is also known to make deductions in taxes on the minimum wage, which also contributes to the “economic hardship” being faced by many workers. According to the spokesperson of the TUCP, the purchasing power of 512 Pesos in Metro Manilla, has been shrunk to 450 Pesos, due to the rising costs of goods alongside utilities such as electricity.
The President of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines(ECOP), seems to have an opinion contrary to that of the workers. According to ECOP president, The Philippine will lose its competitive edge if there is an increase in the workers’ minimum wage. According to the ECOP president, the Philippine will become less competitive and the country may lose out in getting labour-intensive projects. When labour-intensive projects are scarce, the zeal to reduce poverty through the creation of new jobs, may not be achieved.
Experts believe that employers are greatly benefiting from the current economic book in the Philippine, hence they should be able to effect an increase in minimum wage. Despite the pronouncement of the Labor Department that an increase of 320 Pesos is impossible at this time, general workers strike is becoming imminent in the Philippine.