Metro Manila workers get minimum ₱25 wage hike

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 5) — Over one million wage earners in Metro Manila are getting a daily pay raise of ₱25 based on the recent decision of the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board.

In a media briefing Monday, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the new minimum wage of ₱500 and ₱537 (depending on the sector and industry) would take effect 15 days after its publication in a newspaper of general circulation. The Labor Chief has ordered its immediate publication.

Wage Order NCR-22 dated October 30 also integrates the already existing ₱10 cost of living allowance to the current minimum wage, meaning it will be part of the computation for overtime and other benefits.

The ₱25 will be added on top of the current minimum daily wage and COLA of ₱512 for non-agricultural employees and ₱475 for agricultural workers (plantation and non-plantation), for those in retail/service establishments employing 15 people or less and manfacturing companies regularly employing less than 10 workers.

"The board needs to balance the needs of workers and their families with the capacity of enterprises to pay the additional labor cost without impairing business, especially its capacity to continuously generate jobs," National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC) Executive Director Maria Criselda Sy said in a statement read by Bello.

"Sa fixing ng wage adjustment, hindi mo lang kino-consider kung sapat sa pangangailangan ng mangagawa. We have to consider other factors, like 'yung capacity ng employers. So sa tingin ng board, 'yun ang tamang wage adjustment in the capital region," Bello said.

[Translation: In fixing the wage adjustment, you don't just consider if it's enough for the needs of the workers. We have to consider other factors, like the capacity of the employers. So in the opinion of the board, that is the correct wage adjustment in the capital region.]

Labor groups had asked for a ₱334 wage hike, but Sy said industries would not be able to shoulder this even as the amount would have an impact on consumer prices and may force employers to lay off employees.

"Hindi po kasi ibig sabihin na 'pag tumaas ang inflation, kung ano na po ang tinaas niya, 'yun na agad 'yung ibibigay niyo na increase sa mga worker," Sy said during the briefing.

[Translation: It doesn't mean that if inflation rises, whatever the increase would also be the wage increase for workers.]

"It is important that we don't overburden the minimum wage policy with the objective na, kumbaga hindi ma-accommodate ng economy [it won't be accommodated by the economy.] Because if that happens, then you weaken that minimum wage policy as an instrument for giving protection to the vulnerable worker," she said.

But Associated Labor Unions Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) spokesperson Alan Tanjusay said medium and large enterprises would easily afford even a ₱100 wage increase and called the wage order "unfair and unjust."

"Wala namang nangyaring balanse ... dahil mas pabor ang lahat dito sa mga employers at negosyante dahil hindi naman nila kinonsider 'yung paghihirap or 'yung pagbagsak ng purchasing power ng minimum wage [earners,]" Tanjusay told CNN Philippines.

[Translation: There was no balance because this favors employers and businessmen, because they did not consider the burden or the decrease in the purchasing power of minimum wage earners.]

"'Yung ₱25 po [na dagdag-sahod] ay hindi kayang bumili ng pinakamurang bigas na ₱27 po ng NFA rice," Tanjusay said. "Hindi po makakatulong at hindi po kayang maiangat ng dagdag sahod 'yung mangagagwa mula sa kahirapan."

[Translation: The ₱25 wage hike is not enough to buy the cheapest NFA rice, which is priced at ₱27. It would not help and would not ease the burden of poor workers.]

Tanjusay said they plan to file a second wage hike petition in December or January 2019, even if the law prohibits the filing of another petition within a year from the approval of a wage order.

While Rule IV, Section 3 of the NWPC Guidelines No. 01, series of 2007 bars another wage hike petition from being filed 12 months after the approval of a wage increase, it allows the wage board to review wage rates in the event of supervening conditions "such as extraordinary increase in prices of petroleum products and basic goods/services."

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo defended the ₱25 wage hike, saying the amount is "enough" considering the current prices of goods.

"Perhaps as of presently, that's what they found out. That's enough… I guess it's always subject to change depending on economic conditions," Panelo said in a press briefing in Malacañang.

"There's been deliberation on wage board and apparently that's the decision so let's see," he said.

Sy said labor groups may appeal the wage hike within 10 days upon publication of the order, but added that no such move has ever been granted.

"Even 'yun pong nakarating sa Supreme Court, in-uphold po 'yung decision ng board," she said.

[Translation: The decision of the board was upheld, even when one appeal reached the Supreme Court.]

Sy said 87 percent of establishments complied with the previous wage order in the National Capital Region, issued in September 2017.

Wages in Region II, Mimaropa up

Minimum wage earners in Region II and MIMAROPA would also be receiving wage increases upon effectivity of the wage orders of their respective regional wage boards.

In Region II, the regional wage board approved a ₱10 wage adjustment on the basic wage and an additional ₱10 per day COLA, bringing the daily minimum wage rate to ₱320 to ₱360 across different sectors.

Meanwhile, the wage board of the MIMAROPA region approved a ?12 to ?20 per day wage increase, which would hike the daily minimum wage rate in the region to ₱283 to ₱320.

As of October, only Region XIII has not issued a new wage order increasing daily minimum wage rates, the NWPC said.

CNN Philippines Senior Correspondent Ina Andolong contributed to this report.