Labor group says 2023 wage hike not enough for worker’s daily expenses

Ian Laqui - Philstar.com
Labor group says 2023 wage hike not enough for worker�s daily expenses
Activists protest low wages in the Philippines in this file photo.
Boy Santos / File

MANILA, Philippines —  A labor group expressed its dismay over the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)'s pronouncement that there will be no salary adjustments this year.

In a statement on Tuesday, labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) said that the wage increments in the previous year were barely enough to cover the daily expenses of workers.

“Last year’s wage increases only ranged from P30 to 50, just enough for a kilo of rice, or fare for a short ride in a modern minibus under the PUV Modernization program, or a one-way train ticket now that fare hikes loom in the MRT and LRT,” KMU said in a statement.

KMU cited the possible fare price increase of MRT-3, according to the Department of Transportation, after the fare price hike of LRT lines 1 and 2 on August 2023.

In December, research group IBON Foundation also forecast a potential surge from 300% to 400% in jeepney fares, aimed at assisting operators and drivers in offsetting the substantial expenses linked to the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization program.

Prices of rice are also poised to increase due to the possible effects of the El Niño phenomenon, which the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas previously said may threaten the country’s food supply.

KMU’s statement was issued after Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma said on Sunday that there will unlikely be a wage hike increase for 2024 as they are letting the 2023 wage hikes to “sink in.”

In 2023, Laguesma said that 15 out of the 16 Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards across the country released fresh wage orders, providing salary hikes for minimum wage earners.

The labor group said that the minimum wage for workers should be adjusted  to the “changing needs.”

“Under the Wage Rationalization Act, the regional wage boards must issue wage increase orders motu proprio or upon the petition of workers at least each year,” KMU also said in a statement.

The current daily minimum wage in the National Capital Region, the highest minimum wage in the Philippines, ranges from P573 to P610. This is lower than the minimum wages in other regions of the country.

Labor groups and some progressive sectors have long been calling for the approval of a daily wage increase of P750 for regular employees and workers nationwide in response to the rapid increase in the prices of goods and services.

This is also far from the NCR family living wage of P1,188 per day with a family of five, according to a research of IBON foundation. 

KMU also said that DOLE needs to enhance its efforts to guarantee that employers adhere to the wage increase.

“As for the implementation, DOLE must amp up itself to ensure compliance among employers. But in no way should it use this as an excuse and pass the burden of the inefficiency of monitoring to the workers,” the labor group said in a statement.

“All these issues - measly wage increases that are given in tranches and are sorely delayed - only reveal the failure of RA 6727,” it added.

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