Workers buck wage hike in installments

Mayen Jaymalin - The Philippine Star
Workers buck wage hike in installments
Workers are seen performing their duties at a constructi site in Taguig on February 7, 2024.
STAR / Ernie Penaredondo

MANILA, Philippines — Stressing the need for a one-time significant wage increase to effectively stimulate the local economy, labor group Federation of Free Workers (FFW) has rejected the proposal by some legislators and the business sector for an installment-based legislated wage increase.

“Such a method would considerably weaken the potential economic stimulus that a one-time increase could achieve,” FFW Women’s
 Network vice president Arta Maines said.

The FFW is pushing for a P150 legislated wage increase for all workers, as it noted that it is critical to boost the purchasing power of the workforce and delivering an immediate uplift to economic activities.

Some legislators are proposing a gradual increase of P100 over three years for the National Capital Region (NCR), Calabarzon and Central Luzon – P40 in the first year, P40 in the second and P20 in the third year.

A P35-P35-P30 increment is being eyed for other regions.

“This is lower than some of the wage orders promulgated by the RTWPBs which unions earlier criticized as insufficient,” Maines said, referring to Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards.

She said the installment-based increase diminishes the immediate impact that a signifi[1]cant wage boost could have on the economy.

“It’s crucial, now more than ever, for our workers to receive this adjustment to handle the rising living costs and to kickstart economic activities from the grassroots,” Maines pointed out.

She said that a substantial wage hike implemented on May 1 would convey a strong message of support for the country’s workforce and aid in the swift recovery of local economies.

She added that studies have shown a positive correlation between worker morale, effort and wage satisfaction.

The FFW official cited as an effective precedent the P25 wage increase in 1989.

“Despite substantial wage hikes and the political unrest following coup attempts, the feared massive job losses did not materialize. Instead, GDP (gross domestic product) growth soared to 5.8 percent from that period until the Asian financial crisis in 1997,” she said.

Maines noted that the proposed P150 wage increase represents 24.59 percent of the current P610 daily wage in the NCR, compared to the 39.1 percent legislated increase in 1989.

In the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, where the daily wage is P341, the increase would constitute 43.99 percent.

Employers and other business groups are against a legislated wage hike, preferring to leave wage setting to the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards as mandated by law. — Janvic Mateo

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