Tulfo calls for hearings on minimum wage policies


MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Raffy Tulfo has filed a resolution for the Senate labor committee to hold hearings on minimum wage policies as he pointed out that increases have not kept pace with inflation — recorded at 8.7% in January.

In Philippine Senate Resolution No. 476, Tulfo said that minimum wages are a "critical tool" to promoting living standards and economic growth.

"The current minimum wage increase will not be able to sustain the living conditions of workers," Tulfo said, adding an emergency wage order might be necessary to help during a cost-of-living crisis.

"It is imperative to improve the standard of living and quality of life for workers, particularly those in the lower income bracket, and to ensure that the policies on the minimum wage increase are fair, effective, and consistent with the needs of workers and the economy," he also said.

The last increase in the minimum wage was in June 2022: To between P533 and P570 in Metro Manila and to between P306 to P470 in the regions.

Calls for national minimum wage

Minimum wages are set by wage boards and vary across regions but there have been calls for a national minimum. At a workers' rally on Bonifacio Day last November, Ferdinand Gaite of government workers' group COURAGE said workers need an across-the-board wage increase if only to regain what they used to earn before inflation hit 7.7%.

"Do farm workers need less food than company workers?" he said then.

READ: In new attempt, Makabayan bloc files bill setting a national minimum wage

The Makabayan bloc at the House of Representatives filed a bill last September for a national minimum wage, saying regional differences in pay are irrational.

“We should restore a decent and living national minimum wage, unlike the spare change we have now,” Rep. Arlene Brosas (Gabriela party-list), among the authors of the proposal, said then.

Reps. Ron Salo (Kabayan party-list) and Jose Ma. Zubiri Jr. (Bukidnon) have filed bills seeking a P750 national minimum wage while Rep. Ramon Jolo Revilla III (Cavite) has proposed a P150 across-the-board increase.

ECOP: Higher minimum wage will hurt small businesses

The Employers Confederation of the Philippines last May warned against raising the minimum wage, saying that would make smaller businesses suffer. The business group said that it would be better for government to support micro, small and medium enterprises stay in business.

"The possibility of job losses and rising cost of products cannot be discounted as a consequence of a minimum wage increase. Alternatively, businesses may find it more prudent to close their operations or pass on the added cost to consumers," ECOP said then. 

"Even if such increase is limited to minimum wage earners, it actually leads to wage distortion, a situation could lead to the obliteration of the prevailing salary structure within the company."

RELATED: House panel reviewing minimum wage

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