Labor chief orders minimum wage review as oil prices skyrocket

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
Labor chief orders minimum wage review as oil prices skyrocket
Commuters ride a packed jeepney in Marikina City on the first day of implementation of loosened pandemic restrictions under Alert Level 1 on Monday, March 1, 2022. Under this status, Public utility vehicles are allowed to operate with 100% capacity.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has directed wage boards across the country to hasten their review of minimum wages over zooming fuel prices on account of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that has sent global oil prices skyrocketing.

In a statement, Bello said oil prices — which increased this week by between P3.60 to P5.85 per liter — may be a “compelling ground” for wage boards to recommend the adjustment of minimum wages.

He stressed, however, that setting and adjusting the minimum wage will have to be a balancing act between workers and businesses.

“Minimum wage cannot be very low as it will have very small effect in protecting workers and their families against poverty. If set too high, it will have an adverse employment effect.  There should be a balance between two sets of considerations,” he said.

Bello expects that wage boards will be able to submit their recommendations by the end of April.

In Metro Manila, the minimum wage was last adjusted to a range of P500 to P537 a day in 2018, when tight rice supplies pushed consumer prices up 5.2% year-on-year, the fastest in over nine years.

As inflation spiked last year, some labor groups opted not to petition to increase the wage floor over fears that this may lead to more businesses shutting down which in turn could result in more job losses amid the pandemic that has already battered the economy.



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