Senators defend P100 wage hike

Marc Jayson Cayabyab - The Philippine Star
Senators defend P100 wage hike
Workers are seen performing their duties at a constructi site in Taguig on February 7, 2024.
Ernie Penaredondo

MANILA, Philippines — Senators yesterday defended their legislated salary increase recently passed on second reading, following a comment from an Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) official who called the P100 wage hike a “catastrophe.”

The comment of ECOP president Sergio Ortiz-Luiz Jr. describing the wage hike as a “catastrophe” is expected of someone who adheres to the Western economic model, Senate minority leader Aquilino Pimentel III said.

Ortiz-Luiz had warned that a hike for minimum wage earners in the private sector will cause employers to lay off workers or pass on the additional labor costs to consumers, driving up prices and further eroding workers’ income.

“Let us not believe in that. We have to think out of the box. That thinking came out of Western schools which blame the poor workers for the inflationary effect of more wages,” Pimentel said in a dwIZ interview yesterday.

He said executives should instead stop their real estate purchases and private jet trips, instead of opposing the wage increase which is meant to augment the measly salary adjustments by regional wage boards.

“I’m sure the business person can make the adjustments. They should refrain from buying private jets and helicopters and vacation houses in the US, so that they could help their fellow citizens here,” Pimentel said.

He urged business sectors to be optimistic about giving reprieve to minimum wage earners instead of making “alarmist” comments.

“Let us be optimistic. Let us not be fear mongers. Let us help our lowest income workers,” Pimentel said.

The wage hike bill sponsor, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, stressed the need to legislate the wage hike because of the measly increases set by the regional wage boards in the metro and in the provinces.

“The P100 wage increase is actually not enough. But we have to strike a balance between the employers and the employees,” Estrada said in a separate dwIZ interview yesterday. Estrada chairs the Senate labor committee.

“I’ve talked to several businessmen and they said they would not be affected because they are giving salaries way above the minimum wage, especially here in Metro Manila,” he added.

Sen. JV Ejercito said employers should be more generous to their employees who serve as the backbone of their businesses.

“We need to share our blessings. With the high prices of goods now, we need to give our workers a way to have a quality and decent way of living,” Ejercito said in another dwIZ interview yesterday.

The proposed “P100 Daily Minimum Wage Increase Act of 2023” is set to be approved on third reading this week.

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