Calabarzon workers want minimum wage at P750 to meet rising prices

Jonathan de Santos - Philstar.com
Calabarzon workers want minimum wage at P750 to meet rising prices
Marlene Cenina, 39, sewer, works making Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for frontliners, in Cainta, Philippines, on April 24, 2020 during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — Twelve labor organizations in Calabarzon under Workers Initiative for Wage Increase (WIN4WIN) have filed a petition to bring the minimum wage in the region to P750. They said rising prices are a "supervening event" that justifies a new wage order.

The petition seeks to raise the daily minimum wage across four area classifications — currently, the minimum wage ranges from P350 to P470 depending on the nature of work and on whether the work is done in a metropolitan area, component city or in a municipality. The petition is calling for increases of P280, P321, P360, and P400 in the minimum wages in the different classifications.

READ: TUCP: Pro-labor pivot would help pitch Philippines to investors

"Depending on where we work, there are different minimum wages in our region," Mary Ann Castillo, WIN4WIN spokesperson, said in Filipino in a press statement. "For decades, wage rationalization has been a burden to workers in the southern Tagalog," she added, using the name for the region that has since been split into Calabarzon and Mimaropa.

WIN4WIN said raising the minimum wage to P750 will help workers cope with rising prices, adding  "wages have eroded by P90 already due to rising prices." 

Workers cross organizational lines

WIN4WIN includes the following unions and labor groups:

  • Metal Workers Alliance of the Philippines
  • Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino Southern Tagalog
  • Kilusang Mayo Uno
  • Federation of Free Workers
  • Confederation of Filipino Workers
  • National Federation of Labor Union
  • Drug, Food and Allied workers Federation
  • Kilos na Manggagawa Southern Tagalog
  • TF2- Kilos Damit
  • Workers Assistance Center
  • Workers in Semiconductor and Electronics Network (WISENET)
  • Kilusan ng Manggagawang Makabayan-Katipunan

The unified petition involves labor groups that have previously been rivals for membership and influence. "Now, we are showing a broad unity of workers in [Calabarzon] for a unified minimum wage for all workers in the region," Castillo also said.

The Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board for Calabarzon last issued a wage order to raise minimum wages in June 2022, with the second tranche of that increase implemented last December. WIN4WIN said, however, that the rising prices of goods and services can be considered a "supervening event" that would prompt the issuance of a new wage order under the Wage Rationalization Act.

The Wage Rationalization Act mandates regional boards to investigate and consider issuing a wage order "whenever conditions in the region so warrant."

Among the bases for setting a regional minimum wage are "the demand for living wages" as well as changes in the cost of living and the needs of workers and their families. Boards also have to ensure that minimum wages take into account "the need to induce industries to invest in the countryside", the effects it will have on employment generation, and the "fair return of the capital invested and capacity to pay of employers."

The same law stresses that it is the state's policy to "promote collective bargaining as the primary mode of settling wages and other terms and conditions of employment", an avenue that has become increasingly difficult for workers who face harassment, intimidation and violence for organizing unions and welfare associations.

READ: Workers hopeful ILO visit will lead to better environment for labor, unions

Employers: Wage increase to hurt small businesses

Apart from the wage petitions, several proposals have been filed at the House and the Senate to increase the minimum wage as workers struggle to make ends meet in the face of rising prices.

The Employers Confederation of the Philippines last May warned against raising the minimum wage, saying that would make smaller businesses suffer. The business group said that it would be better for government to support micro, small and medium enterprises stay in business.

"The possibility of job losses and rising cost of products cannot be discounted as a consequence of a minimum wage increase. Alternatively, businesses may find it more prudent to close their operations or pass on the added cost to consumers," ECOP said then. 

"Even if such increase is limited to minimum wage earners, it actually leads to wage distortion, a situation could lead to the obliteration of the prevailing salary structure within the company."

vuukle comment





  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with