Employers win out in wage board talks for ‘just’ salary hike

Published by rudy Date posted on May 6, 2011

MANILA, Philippines – In the end, the National Capital Region (NCR) wage board decided to give more weight to the arguments of employers for a ‘just’ minimum salary hike for Metro Manila workers after exhaustive week-long public hearings.

Employers were considered in the wage hike, amounting to P13.35 a day, acknowledged National Capital Region Wageboard Executive Director Ciriaco Lagunzad III in an interview with Radyo Inquirer Friday.

“In the end, employers will give the salary increase and not the government,” Lagunzad explained.

Lagunzad said that aside from the needs of the employees, the employers’ cost such as its investments and gross income were considered in mulling possible wage increases.

He rationalized that the P13.35 a day additional wage hike might be lower or higher depending on a particular employer’s capacity to pay.

There were other economic indicators to consider such as the inflation rate, prices of basic commodities, oils and electricity, he pointed out.

“They (labor sector) can go to the NSO (National Statistics Office) website to check the inflation status,” he challenged.

The NCR Wageboard Council came out with their decision a week after President Aquino’s call on Labor Day for the regional wage boards to hasten their proceedings.

The wage board did study the merits of the petition filed by the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) which is sought a P75 salary hike for workers in the metropolis.

The minimum pay in the NCR was last raised in July 2010 when the wage board implemented an increase of P22.

The Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) had urged the Metro Manila regional wage board to immediately grant the TUCP petition.

“We asked the wage board to break expectations and approve the P75 petition since our study reveals that the cost of living for a family of six in Metro Manila as of March this year is already P1,010 a day,” said Renato Magtubo, PM national chair.

Magtubo criticized the President for not giving workers even nonwage benefits last May 1.

“Private sector workers got nada from PNoy (Aquino). PNoy did not really break bread with labor but he broke tradition by giving nothing to workers, not even a consuelo de bobo of nonwage benefits,” Magtubo said.

He added, “There is a huge gap between the minimum wage and the cost of living. The disparity between the P404 minimum wage and the cost of living is P606 or 150 percent of the ordinary wage.”

“Even if two members [of the family] work—which is the buy one, take one policy of the government—then their combined income will not be enough to feed the entire family,” Magtubo added.

He said PM arrived at its cost of living figure using its April 2010 survey of the daily cost of living and the National Statistics Office’s 2.6 percent estimate of the inflation rate from April 2010 to March this year.

“Our estimate is already an understatement since the rise in prices has been accelerating since March,” Magtubo said.

Last week, members of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) held a rally in front of the Department of Labor and Employment office in Intramuros, Manila, and called for the immediate abolition of regional wage boards (RWBs).

The group said that for the past two decades of the boards’ existence, “no meaningful and substantial wage hikes [have been] implemented.”

“The growing clamor for a P125 wage hike remains elusive. Through the RWB, [Aquino] has [an] excuse [for not implementing] a P125 wage increase despite the rising cost of oil, petroleum products, food and other basic commodities and services,” said Roy Velez, KMU-NCR chair. –Danica Marie Hermogenes, INQUIRER.net

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