Labor groups urge DOLE to act on wage hike petition

Zen Hernandez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 30 2023 06:50 PM

MANILA - Workers and labor organizations marched Thursday to the office of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to call for swift action on their wage hike petition filed last March 21.

Under the Unity for Wage Increase Now (UWIN), the workers and labor organizations filed the petition at the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board in hopes of having some progress in increasing the wages of laborers.

UWIN, a group of over 20 labor organizations, is seeking for an additional P530 to the current P570 daily minimum wage in the National Capital Region (NCR).

The reason for the amount is to close the gap between the daily minimum wage and the so-called “living wage,” which according to a non-profit research group should be at P1,162 per day for a family of 5 in NCR.

If UWIN’s petition is approved, the daily minimum wage will become P1,100.

Similar petitions have been filed by other labor groups in CALABARZON, Western and Central Visayas.

DOLE Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma previously said, he cannot preempt the decisions of the regional wage boards who are in charge of deliberating on such petitions. 

But since the last wage adjustment was made only in June 2022, a “supervening event” will have to be established to justify another round of adjustments.

However, workers said record high inflation which has remained over 8 percent, has greatly eroded their purchasing power or capacity to afford basic needs.

“Sobrang emergency na po, marami na po ang nagugutom, marami na ang hindi nakakakain nang sapat, marami na pong mga anak ang hindi natutugunan ang pag-aaral. Katulad ko po, isang ina isang anak, hindi pa po ako pasok sa doon sa limang miyembro ng pamilya, pero sobrang hirap na hirap na po kami sa pagba-budget,” said Julie Anne Gutierrez of Kilos Na Manggagawa.

“Kung sapat naman po ang natatanggap naming mga manggagawa, wala po kami dito. Sinasabi nga po minsan, sagana lang kami sa panawagan, pagra-rally, pagsigaw, pero ito lang po 'yung kaya naming gawin, dahil hindi na po talaga namin kinakaya,” she added.

UWIN and its member labor organizations are requesting for a dialogue with Laguesma on April 19, in order to explain its petition further.

Employers meanwhile warned that another wage increase will weigh down businesses, especially micro to small enterprises which are still recovering from the pandemic.

It will also turn off potential investors since the Philippines now has higher minimum wage rates than countries like Vietnam and Cambodia, and even Thailand if compared to the NCR rate.

The national government meanwhile has been trying to offer non-wage solutions such as discounted prices of goods through its Kadiwa program.

“Hindi naman lahat 'yan maseserbisyohan eh. Ang manggagawa nasa national, pambansa. Ang Kadiwa nandito lang sa NCR 'yung malawak na naseserbisyuhan. Kaya 'yung maigi sa pambansang saklaw dagdag na sahod talaga yung pangangailangan naming manggagawa hindi 'yung Kadiwa,” said Duds Gerodias of Associated of Democratic Labor Organizations and co-convenor of Unity for Wage Increase.

UWIN is challenging President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to prove that he is pro-workers by issuing an executive order that would provide for a national minimum wage increase.

The group is also supporting proposed bills in both Senate and House of Representatives that call for a wage increase.