Zubiri seeks P150 nationwide minimum wage hike

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
Zubiri seeks P150 nationwide minimum wage hike
LRT passengers browse through their cellphones while commuting in Manila on March 13, 2023.
STAR / Miguel De Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri filed Tuesday a bill that seeks to increase minimum wages of private sector workers nationwide by P150, citing the urgency to ease the effects of red-hot inflation that hit a 14-year high in January.

“A decent life costs a decent wage,” Zubiri said in a statement. “If workers are putting in hours and hours of labor, day after day, and yet are still unable to afford their rent, bills and basic necessities, then there is a problem.”

Under Senate Bill No. 2002, Zubiri proposed private sector employers, whether agricultural or non-agricultural, regardless of capitalization and number of employees, shall pay their workers an additional P150 once the measure takes effect.

Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards may still grant additional wage hikes.

The bill bars employers from crediting previous wage increases as compliance with the proposed hike unless expressly provided under valid collective bargaining agreements in anticipation of the legislated across-the-board wage increase.

If the increase provided by the employer is less than the prescribed wage hike under the bill, the employer shall pay the difference.

The proposal seeks to punish those who do not comply with the wage hike with a fine of at least P100,000 to P500,000 or imprisonment of two to four years.

“While our GDP is going up, we have to make sure that our economic growth actually cascades to our people. Otherwise, we’re just widening the gap between rich and poor,” Zubiri said.

He added: “What we want is to lift everyone up, broaden our middle-income class, and ensure that every Filipino has the means to enjoy a genuinely decent life. That means empowering people not just to survive, but to actually achieve a level of comfort that allows them to pursue their personal goals and interests, beyond just their work.”

Makabayan bloc lawmakers, led by Rep. Arlene Brosas (Gabriela Women’s Party), filed House Bill 7568 on Monday mandating all employers in the private sector to pay their workers an additional P750 in daily wages across the board to allow households to ride the costs of surging inflation.

The measure set the ballpark figure of P750 based on estimates by economic thinktank IBON Foundation that this amount would bridge the gap between workers’ current minimum wages and the estimated family living wage – or the minimum family income needed to provide for basic needs and a decent standard of living.

The House subcommittee on labor standards will discuss on Wednesday measures seeking to increase workers' salaries by P150 daily across the board, among other measures. Bills on private sector workers’ minimum wages have been pending at the committee level since 2022. — with a report from Cristina Chi

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