Letters to the Editor

Bury the minimum wage issue

The Philippine Star

We heard a collective howl of protest from the labor groups in reaction to the P33 proposed increase in the minimum wage, from P537 to P570, in the NCR. An understandable outcry of disappointment!

Well-milled rice is P78 a kilo, a kilo of pork as viand is around P170. If a family of five can get by with two kilos of rice, P156, and one kilo of pork, P170, daily, that takes out P326 from the present minimum wage of P537 and leaves a balance of P211 for everything else in their life. No doubt the increase of P33 is really a pittance.

On the other hand, the employers’ groups are also concerned that any increase at this time is arbitrary and a burden for the MSMEs just starting to recover.

This impasse between the labor sector and the employers’ groups comes to a head every year. It’s time to have a progressive approach to this perennial problem for both sides to understand that raising wages cannot come off like a hat trick without a revenue source in view.

Productivity reward programs would be the best option to generate more revenues to address low wages and provide liveable earnings for the workers.

The productivity rewards program needs confidence building and some waiting time to see results. Increased revenues mean there is additional income that can be shared by management and labor, without burdening capital unnecessarily, but instead improve the workers’ lot. With better team-based productivity in their company, the minimum wage demands will become a non-issue and added proportionate benefits will come to the workers as the company revenues increase.

Constant haggling on increasing the minimum wage evades the core of the problem: the absence of a clear joint understanding between management and the workers to first generate more income for their company so that workers’ take-home pay can increase.

A profit-sharing formula is urgently needed; the employers’ groups, the PCCI and ECOP, can initiate this mutually beneficial solution with the labor groups – a win-win formula for all and bury for good the minimum wage as a labor issue.  – Marvel K. Tan, [email protected]


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