Wages stable in BPOs amid global turmoil

Published by rudy Date posted on March 14, 2009

MANILA, Philippine — Workers in the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector are assured of stable wages this year, even amid the global recession, but they should not expect salaries to increase much, an industry leader said.

The wage structure in the local BPO sector has been “stable and flat” over the past two years and that trend will likely continue this year, said Oscar Sañez, chief executive of the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP).

“The general wage structure is pretty much stable,” he said. “We already have a premium wage structure in BPO, with companies paying twice the minimum wage.”

However, the BPO sector must be able to maintain an adequate supply of qualified labor to prevent “wage inflation.”

“There’s inflation in specialized areas such as engineering, architecture and IT [information technology]. Our labor costs should be toe to toe with India, so we have to have enough supply [of qualified personnel] to prevent wage inflation,” he said.

“We need to maintain our productivity. It’s a balancing act between paying the right wages and ensuring competitiveness with other countries,” he added.

Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines president Richard Mills added that while BPO sector wages were not likely to go up this year on account of the recession, at least new jobs could be expected.

“There will be new jobs. BPAP is also building people’s skills for the future, so we can have a bigger pool [of BPO employees],” he said.

Generally, however, most local firms are keen on hiking salaries this year, despite the economic downturn, according to the latest Grant Thornton International Business Report.

The report stated that 76 percent of local executives polled said they would likely hike wages above the current inflation rate level or at least stay in line with the economic indicator.

Another 12 percent said they would not offer any pay hike, and only 2 percent said they would slash wages.

These numbers are rosier than those in other countries, the survey revealed, as only 10 percent of all business leaders polled globally said they expected to raise wages above the rate of inflation.

Around 21 percent said salaries should stay the same in 2009, and 3 percent said pay cuts were possible.– Abigail L. Ho, Philippine Daily Inquirer

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