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Labor group says to seek bigger Metro Manila wage hike

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THE COUNTRY’S biggest labor group plans to raise today its daily minimum wage hike petition for Metro Manila’s private sector workers in the face of a rising inflation rate, according to a notice which the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) e-mailed to journalists on Sunday.

The National Capital Region (NCR) Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board is scheduled to hold on Monday, Oct. 22, consultations with labor sector leaders. The Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECoP) announced last Oct. 19 that the NCR wage board will meet next with leaders of employers’ groups on Oct. 24, Wednesday (9-11 a.m. at D Circle Hotel, 2063 M.H. Del Pilar Malate, Manila). A public hearing on NCR wage adjustments will take place on Oct. 26, Friday (9-11 a. m. at Room A & B, 2nd floor of the Philippine Trade Training Center, PTTC Building at Senator Gil J. Puyat Ave corner Roxas Boulevard in Pasay City).

An ALU-TUCP statement quoted its spokesman, Alan A. Tanjusay, as saying it “will submit a supplementary position paper amending [its] P320 daily wage hike petition filed in June… to P334 a day.”

Metro Manila’s current daily minimum wage for private sector workers now amounts to P475 for those in agriculture, retail/service businesses employing up to 15 workers and manufacturing establishments regularly employing less than 10 workers; and P512 for non-agriculture workers.

Mr. Tanjusay said in yesterday’s statement that with nationwide headline inflation clocking in at a fresh nine-year-high 6.7% in September, compared to 5.2% in June when his group filed the current P320 petition, ALU-TUCP “deemed it necessary to raise the amount to reflect the current conditions around workers and their families.”

September marked the ninth straight month of inflation rate increase, with monthly rates since March breaching the central bank’s 2-4% full-year target for 2018.

Year-to-date headline inflation clocked in at five percent against that full-year target, with the rate for Metro Manila logging 5.5% and the one for areas outside NCR at 4.8%.

ALU-TUCP’s statement on Sunday said that “with the continuing increases in prices of goods and services since January… the value of P512 (daily minimum wage) fell… to a meager P340 a day.”

Sought for comment, ECoP Acting President Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis Jr. said in a telephone interview that “… P334 is really way off what should be reasonable,” noting “[t]hat P334 is more than 60% of the present minimum wage.”

He echoed ECoP’s earlier warnings that increases in daily minimum wage hit micro, small- and medium-scale enterprises (MSMEs) hardest. MSMEs account for 99% of businesses and 60% of jobs in the Philippines but contribute only 36% of gross value added, according to the May 2016 Investment Policy Review of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

“We expect that by the end of the month, we will be able to know how much is the wage hike amount,” Mr. Tanjusay said in the statement on Sunday, with the increase to take effect “by mid-November.”

Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III had said in September that Metro Manila’s private sector minimum wage earners can expect an increase of at least P20 some time this month.

So far, 12 of the country’s 17 regions have increased their daily minimum wage rates: Cordillera Administrative Region, Ilocos Region (Region 1), Central Luzon (Region 3), Calabarzon (Region 4A covering Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon), Bicol Region (Region 5), Western Visayas (Region 6), Central Visayas (Region 7), Eastern Visayas (Region 8), Zamboanga Peninsula (Region 9), Davao Region (Region 11), Soccsksargen (Region 12 covering South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City) and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. — with Gillian M. Cortez

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