Govt approves pay hike talks for Metro Manila

Published by rudy Date posted on April 14, 2011

THE government agency that sets minimum wage rates on Wednesday announced it will be holding public hearings on a new pay increase for Metro Manila’s workers, and even though the last increase of P22 a day was granted less than a year ago, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said.

“Yes, we have approved it,” Baldoz said after meeting with the National Wages and Productivity Council, which agreed with the Metro Manila wage board that the “supervening event” of rising prices justified discussions of a new wage hike and overrode the one-year moratorium on such increases required by law.

“A notice of hearing will be published and public hearings will be conducted. Afterwards, the wage board will deliberate on what form it will take and what amount it will be,” Baldoz said of the pay increase, which may be added to the minimum wage or the cost-of-living allowance.

On Tuesday, the Metro Manila wage board cited the continuing increase in the prices of crude oil and petroleum products as the supervening event meriting a wage hike.

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, the country’s largest labor group, petitioned for a 75-peso increase in wages in March, saying the P404 minimum wage in Metro Manila was not keeping up with the rising oil and food prices.

The labor group said prices between July 2008 and December 2010 had increased by 4.4 percent, while the consumer price index for 2011 was projected to rise by 10 percent.

Earlier this month, the central bank said it might review its policy rates if the inflation outlook “becomes more unfavorable,” and if the government approved an increase of more than P25 in the minimum daily wage.

The Palace rejected a 125-peso legislated minimum wage adjustment passed by the House of Representatives in December 2010, saying the administration preferred to work through the regional wage boards.

Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo said he opposed a wage increase of P125 a day, saying it would hurt business.

“The increase should be close to the inflation rate, and not so high that it will imperil the operations of firms in the country,” Domingo said .

He said he supported a plan to increase the minimum wage provided it went through the regional tripartite productivity wage boards.

Labor groups roundly criticized the 22-peso wage hike granted in June 2010, calling it “a heartless insult” to workers.

The increase did not even meet workers’ need for “a decent living,” TUCP Rep. Raymond Mendoza said. Vito Barcelo, Manila Standard Today

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