MANILA — Of the over 13 million workers in private establishments in the country, 2.29 million receive below minimum wage, according to Gabriela Party List Representative Arlene Brosas.
She added that 3.82 million are receiving minimum wage.
“Ibig sabihin 46.8 percent o halos kalahati ng kabuuang bilang ng sahurang private sector workers ay below minimum or minimum wage earners,” Brosas said Friday during the House plenary debates on DOLE’s proposed 2024 budget.
“Paano nagiging possible ang underpayment ng minimum wage, gayong ipinagbabawal ito ay itinuturing na criminal offense?” she asked.
Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) budget sponsor at the House of Representatives, Quezon 2nd District Representative David Suarez, confirmed these figures.
“’Yung mga nakakamit ng exemptions mula sa minimum wage, karamihan dito ay mga enterprise na nag-uumpisa pa lang. Karamihan dito ay mga negosyong tinatawag nating micro, small and medium enterprises. Kung itatakda natin agad ang sahod na mataas sa kanilang kakayahan, baka naman mag-resulta ito sa pagsasara ng kumpanya,” Suarez replied.
Brosas called for more budget to increase the number of labor inspectors next year. DOLE currently has 1,210 labor inspectors nationwide.
They completed the inspection of 23,420 private establishments within the first half of the year.
Based on the inspection, 93.78 percent are compliant with labor laws and standards, according to Suarez.
But the number of inspected establishments is only less than a fourth of the total 102,000 businesses nationwide.
“Napakaliit ng coverage ng labor inspection. Kulang na kulang sa pagpapatupad ng employment regulation program ng DOLE. Lalu ngayon fully operational na ang mga negosyo, kailangan talaga ng mas maraming labor inspectors,” Brosas said.
“Ang pina-prioritize kasi ng DOLE na bisitahin at i-inspect ay ‘yung industries na marami at may history ng mga reklamo o problema, o mga kasong inilabas laban sa kanila… From there, slowly, binibisita rin ng DOLE through their inspectors ‘yung ibang industries,” Suarez explained.
He urged DOLE to be more proactive in addressing labor salary issues.
“Ito ang atas na inilabas ng ating kalihim, na pagdating sa pagrereview ng mga sahod, dapat through motu propio, gawin nyo na ito, wag na kayo mag-antay ng petitions, wag na kayo mag-antay ng directives mula sa secretary. Be independent, be proactive enough to work on labor salary issues in your respective regions,” Suarez said.
The House of Representatives terminated Friday night the plenary debates on DOLE’s proposed 2024 budget.