IF WE had our way—and the power to do so—we would have readily approved the demand of labor groups for an increase in the daily minimum wage from the current P512 in Metro Manila.
The Makabayan bloc in Congress consisting of militant party-list group has filed a bill seeking a national daily minimum wage of P750 to be adjusted yearly by Congress and the abolition of the tripartite regional wage boards that deliberates on petitions for wage increases.
This, they said, is now imperative amid what it called the “exploding impact” of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act on prices of basic goods and services.
Surprisingly, it’s the moderate Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, the largest labor confederation in the country, that wants an even bigger raise of P800 daily.
And understandably, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has said he would support a national minimum wage only if it would not put a strain on the country’s economic prospects. Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves, for his part, warns that increasing the minimum wage would bring down the economy: “The companies will move out because it will increase the cost of production.”
We predict a reasonable increase in the minimum wage by the Regional Wage Boards to allow workers to cope with higher prices of goods and services. They will have to consider the capability of employers to pay, as well as the consumer price index in the various regions.
The reality is that a legislated nationwide wage increase is likely to be stoutly opposed by the administration’s economic managers and by Congress, and is therefore totally out of the question, as the government must strike a balance between the wage demand of the working class and the need for the business sector to remain viable amid changing conditions.