by: Roy Stephen C. Canivel With a report from Jerome Aning, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Jul 01, 2018
Employers are not convinced that the rising prices of oil products, as well as basic consumer goods and services call for an across-the-board increase in the daily wage in Metro Manila.
The Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines (Ecop) made this stand as it called on the regional wage board to dismiss a petition to increase by P320 the daily wage in the National Capital Region.
The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), one of the country’s biggest labor groups, filed the wage petition with the NCR’s Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) earlier this month in the face of the escalating cost of living.
If approved, the TUCP petition would bring the daily minimum wage in NCR to P832, from the current P512, which the group said was not enough for a family of at least five members to live decently.
In a statement, Ecop said there were no supervening conditions that would allow the RTWPB to entertain any petition for a wage increase.
The RTWPB will also violate the guidelines of the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC) if it considers the petition, according to Ecop president Donald Dee.
Under the NWPC Guidelines No. 1, Series of 2017, a wage order has to stay in effect for 12 months and rules out any petition for wage increase during that time.
Ecop pointed out that the last wage order
issued by the NCR RTWPB—Wage Order No. NCR-21—took effect on Oct. 5 last year and should remain in force until Oct. 5 2018.
The guidelines, however, acknowledge an exemption—even if the current wage order has not yet expired—that will allow the board to issue another wage order.
The exemption requires “supervening conditions, such as extraordinary increase in prices of petroleum products and basic goods/services,” which should be determined by the regional wage board and confirmed by the NWPC, the guidelines stipulate.
In calling for the P320 wage increase, the TUCP blamed the rising costs of services and basic goods such as rice and fuel on the effects of the government’s Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act and the volatility of crude prices in the global market.
Ecop dismissed TUCP’s argument.
“There exists no supervening conditions that would allow the entertainment of the wage hike petition and demand a review of the wage rates prescribed under Wage Order No. NCR-21,” its statement said.
Dole proposal ‘pointless’
Dee pointed out that the grant of an across-the-board increase in minimum wage did not fall within the jurisdiction of the RTWPBs, which is limited to granting regional wage increases to employees earning the statutory wage rates based on the standards and criteria established by law.
A militant lawmaker on Saturday dismissed as “pointless” and tantamount to “alms” the P200 monthly subsidy for workers proposed by the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole).
Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao, one of the authors of a bill seeking a P750 national minimum wage, called the proposal an “insult” to the workers.
“The 200 monthly subsidy, which is less than P7 per day, is literally giving alms to workers’ families. It is just a cover-up, a diversion to undermine emphasis [on] the detrimental impact of [President] Duterte’s tax law and the just-and-urgent demand for a P750 national minimum wage law,” Casilao said in a statement.
House Assistant Majority Leader Michael “Mikee” Romero said he would soon file a bill that would increase government subsidy for the country’s “poorest of the poor” to P500, from P200, in the first year of the TRAIN Act’s implementation.
Romero said urgent certification was needed for the P500 unconditional cash transfer (UCT) “to absorb the effects of 4 to 5 percent inflation, peso depreciation of 10 percent vis-a-vis the US dollar, elevated world crude prices” and “to help poor families eat three meals a day.”
The increase in UCT, he said, shall be sourced according to the funding provisions of the TRAIN Act which should not exceed P26.4 billion.
Casilao said data from the research group Ibon Foundation showed that a family of six needed P1,168 a day to live decently. —