MANILA, Philippines — Labor group Defend Jobs Philippines yesterday filed a formal petition seeking a P100 across-the-board wage increase for workers nationwide.
In a five-page petition filed before the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC), Defend Jobs noted that the current minimum wages in the different regions are insufficient for a decent living.
“It is more urgent than ever and high time in this period of economic and national public health emergency crisis for the government to ensure that the poorest working class do not suffer needlessly,” Defend Jobs spokesman Christian Lloyd Magsoy said.
He noted that prices of essential commodities and basic services have significantly increased since the last wage hike was granted for Metro Manila workers in 2018.
The current P537 minimum wage in Metro Manila, he said, had significantly eroded since 2018. “The increase granted in 2018 is not enough for high inflation,” he pointed out.
“It is imperative that the minimum wage increase be given,” Magsoy said as he noted that workers’ productivity has also increased.
He said the P100 pay hike is less than the P42,000 mentioned by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) as needed for a family of five to survive.
With the support coming from government, Magsoy said even the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) can afford the salary hike.
“Granting our workers with a new round of wage increase is long overdue. We hope that President Duterte and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III will immediately and favorably act on our wage hike petition,” he said.
Magsoy urged other labor groups to also file a similar petition seeking pay hike for workers in other regions.
Labor groups, he said, will continue mounting protest actions until their demand for salary increase is granted.
Rolly Francia, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Information and Public Service director, said the wage board will evaluate the petition of Defend Jobs Philippines for appropriate action.
“The wage board will conduct hearings and then decide to grant or not grant. So we just wait,” Francia said in a virtual briefing yesterday.
“I don’t think there is anything that could stop the board from entertaining the petition. The board also knows the urgency of that petition,” he added.
As this developed, the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board-National Capital Region (NCR) is already reviewing the socio-economic condition in Metro Manila.
The DOLE NCR office said the ongoing review is taking into consideration the impact of the prolonged quarantine and health protocols on business as well as prices of basic commodities and company closures.
Recently, the wage board met with the Department of Agriculture to discuss an update on the current supply of pork and other products.
Meanwhile, senators approved yesterday a bill on third and final reading seeking to mandate all public and private higher education institutions (HEIs) to integrate labor education as part of an elective course to inform future members of the workforce their labor rights.
Voting 22-0 with no abstention, the Senate approved Bill No. 1513 or the Labor Education Act, which principal sponsor Sen. Joel Villanueva said was a consolidation of several bills filed by Sens. Ramon Revilla Jr., Manuel Lapid and himself, taking into consideration House Bill No. 4466.
Villanueva said around 700,000 students graduate from HEIs every year, but these students have little knowledge of their labor rights and access to legal aid or assistance, forcing them to compromise and leaving them vulnerable to labor exploitation.
The chair of the Senate’s labor and higher and tech-voc education committees said equipping students with basic knowledge of labor laws would help protect them from violation of their rights such as security of tenure, a minimum wage, premium pay in case of overtime, holiday work and nighttime work.
“At present, the regions that have the highest number of students enrolled in higher education institutions are also the regions where establishments record dismal compliance to labor laws. Unfortunately, there is no clear core subject in the higher, technical and vocational education sectors where labor education is comprehensively covered,” Villanueva lamented.
He said the enactment of SBN 1513 into law would ensure that every Filipino would be aware of workers’ rights and labor issues which range from unemployment and underemployment to problems concerning fair wages, job security, safe workplaces, social protection and unfair labor practices.