METRO MANILA’s private sector minimum wage earners can expect a P25 hike in their daily pay within the month, after the Labor department formally announced the increase on Monday.
And while the wage hike had already been factored into the central bank’s updated forecast annual inflation averages for this year up to 2020, leaders of some business groups said enterprises will likely have to pass on the higher labor cost to customers through increased prices, lay off some employees and see their competitiveness erode, while a leader of a major labor group said the “unfair” and “unjust” amount will force it to seek another wage hike by January.
The latest increase, which will take effect 15 calendar days from publication in a newspaper, will take the National Capital Region’s (NCR) daily minimum wage to P500-537. “Last Oct. 30, the NCR regional board approved a P25 basic wage increase and integration of its existing P10 CoLA [Cost of Living Allowance to make the new basic wage levels of P475-512]. Upon effectivity of Wage Order No. NCR-22 the new minimum wage rates in Metro Manila shall be P500-537 across different sectors,” Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said in a press briefing in Manila.
Also announced in the same press briefing was a P12-20 daily minimum wage hike for MIMAROPA region, consisting of Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan in southern Luzon.
Saying the new floor wage levels were “hindi naman (not really) reasonable but it’s livable,” Employers Confederation of the Philippines Acting President Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis Jr. said in a phone interview: “Ang gagawin ng employers sa wage increase ay idadagdag sa presyo at babawasan ng tao (Employers will increase prices and reduce manpower).”
For Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman George T. Barcelon, “with the inflation now under control, with the P25 increase, that would be more than enough to cover (the effect of inflation)”. “Ang gusto natin ay maraming (We want to have many) foreign direct investments… [that] find our country attractive and competitive. As far as P25 (wage hike is concerned), I still think it’s a reasonable figure.”
John D. Forbes, senior adviser of The American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Inc., said in a separate text that he was “concerned” that businesses in the Philippines “are not harmed by rising labor costs when they compete with imported goods and work to increase their exports.”
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Deputy Governor Diwa C. Guinigundo said the latest wage hike in Metro Manila, which contributes more than a third to national production, had already been factored into latest inflation forecasts. “Given reports we received on the amount of the petitions in many regions, we decided to adjust our assumption from P18 to P25 daily minimum wage adjustment,” he said via text. “This is already reflected in our September forecasts of 5.2% for 2018, 4.3% for 2019 and 3.2% for 2020.”
Labor leaders, however, said the increase was insufficient.
Alan A. Tanjusay, spokesman of the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines that had asked for a P334 increase, said via text: “We are filing another wage hike petition, citing supervening conditions” that allow petitions to be filed even before the mandated one-year moratorium from the last wage hike will have lapsed.
“We are looking at December or first week of January 2019.”
Asked how much the new petition could amount to, Mr. Tanjusay replied: “It can be P334 or slightly higher.”
For Partido Manggagawa representative Renato B. Magtubo, “P25 is short by 30% to make up for the P35.84 erosion in wages due to the seven percent inflation in the NCR recorded in August this year.” He said in a press statement that “Partido Manggagawa’s own cost of living estimate for a family of five in Metro Manila is around P1,300 a day, more than double the new minimum wage of P537.” — Gillian M. Cortez