Monday, July 15, 2024

State of the Nation’s Minimum Wages: A National Week of Action Calling for Across-the-Board Wage Increase

With the average minimum wage across the regions equating to a mere fraction of the living wages, the National Wage Coalition (NWC), representing workers across various industries and sectors, has demanded and fought time and time again for a wage increase of at least ₱150. We have proposed House Bills with provisions for an across-the-board wage increase that shall benefit all workers. What has the government done? President Bongbong Marcos instructed the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards (RTWPB) to conduct a wage review. The NWC attended hearings to argue for the necessity of a significant increase, yet the RTWPB for the National Capital Region provided only a meager additional ₱35.00 for workers in the region. The Regional Wage Boards have once again proven their unreliability and irrelevance. 

The National Wage Coalition demands President Bongbong Marcos to certify as urgent the proposed legislative House Bills for across-the-board wage increases, which will enable workers to beat the ever-turbulent nature of inflation and provide them with livable wages. Once certified, the House of Representatives must act with utmost urgency. His order addressed to the RTWPB to conduct a wage review has proven a failure. The only way forward is through the legislated bills languishing in the House of Representatives.

House Speaker Martin Romualdez, the House of Representatives’ Committee on Labor and Employment has failed to address the workers demand for wage increase with urgency and genuine concern. You need not wait for the President’s directive. You have a say in determining the economic futures of our workers. It is high time that you heed and address the calls of the united Filipino workers for livable wages: prioritize and expedite the passing of the proposed House Bills 7871, 514, and 7568.   

The National Wage Coalition will keep ramping up the pressure as the President’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) approaches. Throughout this week, the Coalition’s constituent organizations and their respective locals and affiliates shall hold actions to call for the long-awaited across-the-board wage increase. The Coalition will push forward with our demands until all of our workers receive a much-needed and livable wage.

Monday, July 1, 2024

The Regional Wage Boards are Unreliable and Unjust!

The National Wage Coalition’s Statement on the Recently Issued Wage Increase

The new ₱35.00 wage increase for NCR workers issued by the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board - National Capital Region office (RTWPB-NCR) is a disgrace. After several legislative proposals for an across-the-board wage increase, numerous actions held on the streets, and hearings with the labor sector — all with the intent to call and demand for a fair wage increase to adjust for inflation and the ever-changing value of our salaries, the RTWPB’s increase is nothing short of a heartless disregard for the economic crises faced by our workers and families.

The National Wage Coalition (NWC), which represents workers across various sectors and industries, has demanded for a wage increase no less than ₱150. Our minimum wages do not amount to liveable wages. We have presented our arguments based on factual and credible research. And yet our efforts amount to a low increase. The ₱35 increase does not even amount to measly change; it is not even sufficient for a kilo of rice. It makes up for only 30% of the lost value of wages in the NCR, which reached ₱100 according to the Consumer Price Index of May 2024. The NWC has stated before that the RTWPB-NCR has had 35 years’ worth of failure to issue fair and livable wage increases. This recent increase is no failure. It is the deliberate demonstration of the Board’s lack of empathy towards the economic needs of the working class.

With the RTWPB-NCR showing once again their unreliability and heartlessness, the National Wage Coalition demands Congress to address our calls accordingly. In light of this disrespectful and disgusting ₱35 increase by the RTWPB, Congress and the House of Representatives’ Committee on Labor must pass our proposed bills for an across-the-board increase of at least ₱150. Additionally, they must recognize the uselessness and irrelevance of the RTWPB-NCR and conduct a congressional review of our wage fixing policies under RA 6727. It is clear that such policies are insufficient and unreflective of our current economic needs. The RTWPB refuses to meet our demands, thus their existence must be challenged, questioned, and ultimately discontinued.

The National Wage Coalition urges the greater Philippine labor movement and all Filipino workers to press on with the fight for higher and fairer wages. We must act in solidarity in addressing Congress, so that they may truly understand the needs of the working class. You know the worth of your labor and more importantly, the value of your personal life and needs. And while this laughable ₱35 increase may be a setback, so long as we persevere, the fight for a higher wage continues.

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Fight for freedom far from over, labor groups say

MANILA, Philippines — As the country celebrated Independence Day on Wednesday, a labor federation called on the Marcos administration to address critical issues, emphasizing the urgent need for freedom of association, job security against contractualization, and freedom from poverty wages.

According to the Nagkaisa Labor Coalition, the “spirit of freedom” that the country’s heroes fought for was not only from colonial bondage but also from poverty, ignorance and powerlessness.

“As we mark our country’s independence, let us not forget the freedom of our workers to desire for a better life and more certain future. The coalition stands for its calls for justice and equality for all workers. It’s time that the government listen to these calls and enforce meaningful reforms that mirror the true spirit of freedom,” the group said in a statement.


Nagkaisa chair and Federation of Free Workers president Sonny Matula said that despite having the constitutional guarantee of the right to form unions, many workers in the country find themselves unable to organize.

“Other than being killed or Red-tagged, workers are not recognized as employees of the firms or enterprises they serve. Instead, they are supplied by cooperatives or manpower agencies, or are misclassified as independent contractors,” he said.

“All these strategies employed to avoid regularization are commonly called ‘contractualization.’ This systemic avoidance strips workers of their rightful benefits and job security,” Matula added.

The labor leader said many of the country’s workers are also subjected to low pay, which are “strategically kept low” by pegging them to the regional wage boards’ decisions for 35 years now.

“These boards often set wages that do not rise above the poverty threshold, ensuring that workers remain chained to poverty wages,” he added.

Higher daily pay

Matula called on the government to act decisively on the plight of workers, saying “Now we need to unshackle our workers from poverty by giving them living wages. Start with a nationwide P150 daily wage hike. Allow workers to organize unions and ensure their right to security of tenure.”

Even AGRI party list Rep. Wilbert Lee said that Filipinos’ struggle for freedom was far from over.

“While we celebrate the triumph forged by our heroes who fought and liberated us from foreign invaders, we must free Filipinos from perennial problems and sufferings,” he said in a statement.

He expressed hope that every Filipino would soon know true freedom from poverty, high cost of goods and services, corruption, injustice and social discrimination. - By: Jeannette I. Andrade, Jerome Aning - @inquirerdotnet

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Labor groups press P150 wage hike

Nagkaisa chairman and Federation of Free Workers president Sonny Matula

ORGANIZED labor groups will march today, Labor Day, to Morayta Street in Manila to dramatize their call for a P150 legislated wage increase and a dialogue with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

The labor groups, composed of trade union centers, labor federations and workers' organizations in both the private and public sectors, will march under the National Wage Coalition (NWC) banner.

Leading them are the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) and Nagkaisa Labor Coalition (Nagkaisa).

"Passing the P150 wage recovery increase is only the first yet pivotal step that the Philippines should take to actualize living wages embodied in proposed legislation for a P750 daily wage increase for private sector workers and a new Salary Standardization Law (SSL) anchored on the P33,000 monthly minimum wage for public sector workers," the NWC said in a statement.

Officials from the Department of Labor and Employment will be at a meeting with the labor representatives in MalacaƱang, but there is no guarantee that the President will join them.

The Palace program will be from 8 a.m. to noon. The NWC said they will also hold a program in Morayta early in the morning of May 1.

The NWC stressed the need for a dialogue with the President, which is traditionally done every Labor Day celebration.

Aside from the wage hike, the labor groups want to discuss challenges regarding job security due to rampant contracting practices and the need for enhanced freedom of association.

"The lack of dialogue with the President has been a concerning pattern that can no longer be overlooked," said Sonny Matula, Nagkaisa chairman and Federation of Free Workers president. "As we observe Labor Day, it is paramount that these significant concerns are addressed directly with President Marcos to ensure the effective representation and advancement of workers' rights and welfare."

The NWC also called on Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin and Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma to facilitate a meeting with the President. - By William B. Depasupil