NCR workers, employers reject added P22 daily allowance

Published by rudy Date posted on May 10, 2011

MANILA, Philippines (4th UPDATE) – Workers and employers have criticized the National Capital Region’s wage board for approving an additional P22 daily emergency cost-of-living allowance (ECOLA) for minimum wage earners in Metro Manila.

The amount is not enough to meet the needs of ordinary workers, according to Kilusang Mayo Uno chairperson Elmer “Bong” Labog.

On the other hand, Employers Confederation of the Philippines member Jesus Varela said the amount is too high and small business will not be able to shoulder it and may cause the closure of some companies.

The additional P22 ECOLA would bring the daily minimum wage of workers in Metro Manila to to P426.

The Labor Department announced on Monday that the increase was approved by the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board-NCR following discussions with employers and workers’ unions.

The agency clarified this is not an increase to the minimum daily wage, which remains at P404 in the capital.

It said the P22 will not be used in the computation of overtime, night differential, 13-month pay, retirement and other benefits. It only aims to provide workers immediate relief from rising commodity prices, while taking into account businesses’ ability to pay.

The ECOP earlier said its members can only afford a wage hike of P13 a day, and any amount more than that could result in job losses and even closure.

In approving the P22 additional allowance for workers, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said: “We are also very conscious of our job preservation effort especially now that we have also quite a number of establishments that have been affected by natural calamities and even by the impact of natural calamities in Japan.”

“Kung sa basic wage kasi, mas malaki yung added cost on the part of the employer, while kung COLA maliit lang yung added cost,” added Raymundo Agravante, NCR wage board regional director.

The COLA increase, as provided under NCR wage order No. 16, will take effect 15 days after its publication in major broadsheets tomorrow.

TUCP slams decision

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), which sought a P75 hike, called the wage board’s decision a “shameless” one.

“We think the [wage] board just missed an opportunity to raise workers’ standard of living, at least in the NCR,” said TUCP spokesperson Rafael Mapalo.

“It institutionalizes the primacy of profits over people,” he added.

TUCP plans to appeal the decision once it is finalized. “We might also ask Congress to rectify this decision,” noted Mapalo.

No impact on inflation

Baldoz, meanwhile, said the approved P22 additional allowance was within the assumption of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), and will not have an impact on inflation.

“We don’t see any inflationary impact from this,” Baldoz noted. “This is a temporary relief. The regional wage board will continue to monitor the changes in inflation, but we hope that prices of oil will stabilize and normalize,” she added.

The BSP assumed a wage hike of P25 in its forecast for inflation, which is seen to settle at the top of the bank’s 3% to 5% target band this year.

Last week, the central bank raised its interest rates for the second consecutive policy review to tame inflation. Annual inflation came in at 4.5% in April, the fastest in a year. – with reports from Ira Pedrasa and Jojo Malig,; Zen Hernandez, ABS-CBN News; and Reuters

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