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DOLE assures workers of pay hike after wage review

Mayen Jaymalin - The Philippine Star
DOLE assures workers of pay hike after wage review
Workers hold a protest rally in Morayta, Manila in commemoration of Labor Day on May 1, 2024.
STAR / Edd Gumba

MANILA, Philippines — Following President Marcos’ order for a review of minimum wage rates nationwide, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) yesterday assured workers that pay hikes are coming soon.

The President is not giving workers false hope because the different Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards (RTWPBs) will come out with new wage orders before the first anniversary of the existing ones, Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma said.

“The chairman of the National Wages and Productivity Commission wants to make sure that 60 days prior to the anniversary date this has already been acted upon, and on the date of the anniversary or even earlier, there will be a decision,” Laguesma said.

Based on past experience, Laguesma said the RTWPBs usually order a salary hike after a review of existing rates.

However, he clarified that the anniversary date of existing wage rates differs in each of the 17 regions nationwide.

Laguesma further stressed that wage orders to be issued by the different RTWPBs would directly benefit minimum wage earners.

Last year, he said nine out of the 17 RTWPBs nationwide issued wage order motu propio or without petitions for salary hikes.

Concerning complaints that wage hikes being granted by RTWPBs are insufficient, Laguesma said it is because those orders cover entry-level or floor wage.

He said RTWPBs also need to strike a balance between the needs of workers and the capacity of employers.

Most or 95 percent of the estimated 1 million registered companies in the country, he said, are micro, small and medium enterprises.

Meanwhile, senators have asked President Marcos to certify as urgent the legislated P100 wage increase earlier for private sector workers both agricultural and non-agricultural passed by the Senate last February and now up for House of Representatives action.

“All we need is the House counterpart measure, and this will be immediately felt across the sector,” Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said.

A President’s urgent certification would allow the bill to skip the three-day rule and get approved from second to third reading on the same day.

Zubiri clarified that the wage hike bill does not seek to preempt the wage boards’ mandate to review salary increases.

“This bill will only give a boost to the labor sector at this time of great need, as our people work to survive inflation,” he said.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III lauded the order to review regional wage rates, but the “better” move is “to legislate a new nationwide minimum wage amount.”

He said the regional wage boards are already “out of touch with reality” because of their paltry salary adjustments.

“If the existing system needs the President to request the regional wage boards to review wage rates before the RWB actually acts and reviews them, then that only shows that the system is not working,” Pimentel said.

“RWBs are not sensitive anymore to the actual situation on the ground. Many are poor – even those employed – because their daily minimum wages are no longer just,” he added. – Marc Jayson Cayabyab, Delon Porcalla

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