Sunday, February 11, 2024

Labor coalition pushes uniform national wage increase system

THE COUNTRY’S largest labor coalition has urged Congress to review the regional wage-setting mechanism as the Senate is set to deliberate on a bill seeking a P100 daily minimum wage increase for private sector workers.

In a statement on Sunday, Nagkaisa said many Filipino workers still live on “poverty wages” and cited the need for a uniform and single minimum wage nationwide.

“This Senate action renews hope among workers and their unions for a standardized wage increase across the country, paving the way for the potential establishment of a singular national minimum wage in the coming days,” the labor coalition said. “It highlights a pivotal concern within our present economic structure.”

Under Senate Bill No. 2534, the Wage Increase Act of 2023, workers in the private sector whether agricultural or non-agricultural would gain a P100 increase in their daily pay to ensure a “living wage” for the Filipino workforce.

Several senators sponsored the measure during a plenary session on Feb. 7, including Senate President Juan Miguel F. Zubiri, saying it would boost worker productivity.

Labor groups have said that the regional wage-setting system is failing the workers since recent hikes have not helped workers cope with the rising costs of basic goods.

“The present minimum wage law has created poverty wages for many workers,” Nagkaisa said. “All the minimum wages around the country are below the poverty threshold for a family of five.”

A Filipino family of five would need at least P13,797 a month or P460 a day to meet their basic needs, according to the Philippine Statistics  Authority.

The Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECoP) has said a legislated wage hike should also consider workers in less formal employment, noting that private sector workers only comprise 16% of the labor force.

On June 29, the National Capital Region’s RTWB approved a P40 increase in the daily minimum wage, bringing the daily minimum wage to P610 a day from P570 for those in non-agriculture sectors.

This is much lower than what the Unity for Wage Increase Now’s petition sought, a P570 increase that would bring Metro Manila’s daily minimum wage to P1,100. - By John Victor D. OrdoƱez, Reporter

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