LEYTE Rep. Martin G. Romualdez has re-filed a bill that seeks to abolish regional wage boards and assign industry-wide wage increases to the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC).

House Bill 2878 will empower NWPC and rationalize wage levels per industry. “Replacing the regional with an industrial-based minimum wage setup will ensure that the national minimum wage remains responsive to certain peculiarities unique to each industry,” according to the bill’s explanatory note.

NWPC is a key policy making body that determines minimum wages at the regional, provincial and industry levels. It formulates policies on wages and productivity and supervises Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards.

Under the bill, which amends the Labor Code of the Philippines, the commission will prescribe the minimum wage rates for agricultural and nonagricultural workers. Househelpers and personal employees such as family drivers will not be covered by the bill.

Retail or service establishments with regular employees not exceeding 10 workers may be exempted.

Meanwhile, wage increases for security guards, janitors and construction workers will be up to their principals. Employers who violate the proposed law will be fined P50,000 or jailed for two years.

The daily minimum wage in the National Capital Region is P500 to P537. In Region 7, the daily wage is P313 to P386. The daily minimum wage in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao ranges from P270 to P280.

Last year, the Makabayan bloc filed House Bill 7787, which sought to increase the nationwide minimum wage to P750, citing inflation from tax reforms. The also sought to abolish regional wage boards.

Rising minimum wages across Northeast and Southeast Asia will gradually erode the competitiveness of economies in these regions, Fitch Solutions Group Ltd. said in a May 3 note.

While large pools of low-cost labor has positioned these regions as the premier hub for labor-intensive business operations particularly in manufacturing — supporting rapid economic growth in countries like China, Malaysia and Thailand over the past five decades — the rapid region-wide increases in the minimum wage will undermine this global competitiveness, it said.

The report said these regions’ average minimum wage was just about 63% of the global average in 2015, but it has risen to almost 82% this year and may catch up with the global average or overtake it in 10 years. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras