House panel to start deliberations on wage hike tomorrow

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star
House panel to start deliberations on wage hike tomorrow
Activists protest low wages in the Philippines in this file photo.
Boy Santos / File

MANILA, Philippines — The House committee on labor and employment will start tomorrow deliberations on various bills proposing wage adjustments amid the high inflation rate in the country.

According to panel chair and Rizal Rep. Fidel Nograles, the hearings will be done in two categories: one is the “legislated across-the-board” salary hike being proposed in three bills pending before the committee.

The other category pertains to the establishment of a “national minimum wage rate” wherein the process of determining the basic pay under the Labor Code will be amended.?

Currently, salary rates are determined by tripartite regional wage boards considering local economic conditions, inflation and capability of employers balanced against the needs of workers.

Nograles said at a press briefing that Speaker Martin Romualdez had directed the committee to look for a reasonable wage increase as some congressmen see the P100 legislated wage hike passed by the Senate to be inadequate for workers.

Some House members are proposing a daily wage hike ranging from P150 to P350 to allow workers to cope with rising costs.

Businessmen and economic officials have warned that a legislated P100 hike could in fact trigger inflation as affected enterprises would pass on the higher labor cost to consumers, or else lay off workers or shut down their businesses.

“According to the Speaker, we should not rush this. We have to look into this thoroughly, hear the positions of the investors because they are the ones to be affected by this wage hike,” he added.

The lawmaker gave assurance that resource persons from various concerned sectors have been invited to give their opinions on the proposed measures.?Nograles maintained that while wage adjustments will be beneficial to workers, it would have an impact on the economy, investors and employers so this issue needs to be studied thoroughly.

At tomorrow’s hearing, the panel will be discussing other related measures – HBs 7043, 525, 1111, 3308, 4898, 4471 and 1579.

Bigger hike

Labor groups yesterday welcomed proposals by some congressmen to provide higher legislated wage hikes for workers nationwide.

“We are happy that Congress now shares a willingness to adjust wages by way of legislation,” labor coalition Nagkaisa said in a statement.

“With the Lower House’s higher wage hike proposal than the Senate-approved P100, we could only anticipate a more positive, amiable and substantive meeting of minds among our lawmakers, which is way different when they clash over the issue of Charter change,” the group added.

Nagkaisa said any differences that may arise from their wage hike discussions would ultimately work in favor of workers.

According to Nagkaisa, a legislated wage increase would not only close the gap between the minimum wage and living wage but also rectify the injustice done to workers by the present wage-setting mechanisms.

The group intends to present before the labor committee on Wednesday arguments and solid support for the proposed bills seeking legislated wage hikes despite variances in the amounts.

Members of the coalition will also stage protest action outside the Batasan complex to press for all the other demands of workers.

The Federation of Free Workers (FFW) also welcomed House Majority Leader Mannix Dalipe’s recognition of insufficient wage adjustment and gave full backing to the proposed P150 wage hike.

FFW said the Senate-approved P100 wage increase is ”insufficient to meet the needs of Filipino workers.” — Mayen Jaymalin

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