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P15-a-day wage hike OK'd in Metro Manila.

A P15 a day increase in the wages of private sector minimum wage workers and employees in the National Capital Region has been approved by the Regional Wage Board of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) last Monday.

In a press conference, Alex Avila, the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board-National Capital Region (RTWPB-NCR) chairperson, announced the release of Wage Order No. NCR-19 last Monday that will "will account for around 587,000 employees in NCR." Avila is also the director of DOLE-NCR.

"Upon effectivity of this Wage Order, all private sector minimum wage workers and employees in the National Capital Region shall receive an increase in the existing Basic Wage in the amount of P15 per day," said Avila.

12.5% Of Workers

The latest wage order will take effect next month (April) and will cover around 12.5 percent of the total workers in Metro Manila. Avila said that the remaining 4.1 million workers in Metro Manila will not be affected by new wage order since they are already paid above the prescribed rate.


"The new minimum wage in National Capital Region has now been raised to P481 for workers in the non-agriculture sector and P444 for workers in the agriculture sector," Avila said.


But a national labor group has described the P15 a day wage increase as "too meager compared with the amount needed daily by a workers' family to live decently."

The Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) said the "P15 increase in workers' daily wage is not even enough to cover for the increase in fares in the country's train systems. It's not enough to cover for the rising prices of basic commodities, especially food items, and rising payments for basic services."

"If Aquino thinks this wage hike will weaken workers' protests calling for his resignation, then he is sorely mistaken. This meager wage hike is insulting to workers and does not address the government's and big capitalists' attacks against the minimum wage," Elmer "Bong" Labog, KMU chairperson said.

'P1,086 A DAY'

Ibon Foundation had reported the Family Living Wage (FLW) in the country, or the amount needed daily by an average Filipino family to live decently, stood at P1,086 last August 2014.


KMU, with workers' groups from the private and public sectors under the umbrella of All Workers' Unity, is calling for the implementation of a National Minimum Wage in the amount of P16,000. KMU said P16,000 is only half of the FLW computed monthly.


On the other hand, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), which had asked for a P136 increase in the daily minimum wage, said the P15 wage increase is "unacceptable" and "revolting."


Malacanang has defended the P15 wage increase saying that the wage board has been finding a balance between the labor groups and the employers, noting that it is important to keep jobs rather than to increase the wages too high and leave some people unemployed, Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.


"Traditionally, if you look at the positions of labor groups vis-AaAaAeA -v employers groups when it comes to a wage hike, they've never been on the same plane or at least on the same level," Valte said.

"The job of the wage boards is to determine what can be given that will also not be detrimental to employers meaning, if you give too high an increase, the employers will not be able to absorb it, so they have to check what amount can be a good compromise between the requests of the labor groups as well as the employers," she said.

"That brings the total wage in NCR to P481. Some will call it 'not enough' or 'not sufficient' but it is still something to be given, something in addition to what they're already getting," she said.


No new wage hike was approved for Metro Manila last year. The last wage adjustment in Metro Manila took effect on 4 Oct., 2013, which raised its minimum wage rates by P10 and integrated P15 of the P30 cost of living allowance in the basic wage in the region.


In issuing a new minimum wage in the NCR, Director Avila said the RTWPB took into thorough consideration several factors, including the erosion in the minimum wage, inflation rate, possible impact of the minimum wage adjustment on prices of goods and services, as well as on employment; movements in the consumer price index, the current economic condition in the region, employers' ability to pay, and the results of its continuing studies, sectoral consultations, and public hearings.

"The decision of the RTWPB-NCR to adjust the minimum wage was consistent with the government's policy of granting regular, moderate, and predictable minimum wage adjustments, taking into consideration the needs of workers and their families, as well as the need to maintain stability in the business environment within the framework of the two-tiered wage system reform which Secretary Baldoz has initiated in 2012 and which we accelerate to implement," said Avila.

He expressed confidence that like in the past year, employers will be able to bear the cost of the increase without hampering their viability for growth and expansion and, therefore, their ability to sustain employment creation.


An advisory urging the companies of the exempted workers to adjust their pay rate accordingly to correct possible wage distortion caused by Wage Order No. NCR-19 has already been issued, Avila said. Wage distortion is created when the agreed cash benefits are already less than the prevailing minimum wage in their area.


In a related development, Labor spokesperson Nicon Fameronag said Wage Order No. NCR-19 also barred companies with a total asset above P3 million to file for exclusion in the implementation of wage orders in Metro Manila.

"Only companies, which are distressed, has less than 10 workers, or have been severely affected by disasters could now file for the one-year exemption from the wage orders," Fameronag said.(With reports from Madel Sabater Namit and PNA)


Wage workers Philippines (MB file photo)
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Title Annotation:National
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Mar 19, 2015
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