DMCI HOLDINGS, Inc. Chairman and President Isidro A. Consunji expects construction workers’ take home pay to increase as the construction industry experiences labor shortages.

Dapat ‘yung take home mga P1000 a day (Their take home pay should be P1000 a day),” he said, from the P700 daily pay of lower-skilled carpenters and masons.

DM Consunji, Inc. is the construction arm of DMCI Holdings, Inc.

He told reporters on the sidelines of the 4th Philippine Construction Industry Congress that the aggregate requirement for construction workers has increased dramatically due to the government’s infrastructure program “Build, Build, Build.”

Based on the its road map launched last year, the construction industry expects to increase available jobs to 7.1 million. According to preliminary data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, there were 4.2 million jobs in the industry last year.

Mr. Consunji said jobs in the provinces have also increased, discouraging workers to move to Metro Manila for construction jobs.

“People are now realizing that the salary scale of the construction of the industry is rather low,” he said, noting the physical hazards the jobs entail. Workers also deal with expensive housing and traffic in Metro Manila.

“Effectively labor is saying, you pay me more money so that I can work here,” he said.

The ability of construction companies to raise wages immediately is limited because they bid forward, he said.

“They cannot adjust the salary scale very fast without affecting the margin. I think over the next three, four years, mag-a-adjust dramatically, the adjusting of the skills,” he said.

He said his company is putting up living quarters, offering shuttle rides, and giving allowances for skilled workers in addition to their pay.

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez told reporters at the same event that construction companies have no choice but to increase wages to continue to attract skilled laborers and continue their projects.

“You add some salaries para lang pumunta sila sa (just so they would go to the construction) site, and that’s happening. And they said that’s because of the demand in other sectors, BPO (business process outsourcing), which are all growing as well,” he said.

“They will have to compete with the workforce and that means also that they will have to offer bigger salaries in this sector. That’s good, that should make their sector more attractive to workers.” — Jenina P. Ibañez