Nationwide round-up (02/21/21)

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Employers group doubts approval of P100 daily wage hike

THE Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) said the emergency P100 daily salary increase petitioned by some labor groups is unlikely to be granted by the wage board as businesses continue to suffer from the economic onslaught brought by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis. In a phone interview with BusinessWorld, ECOP President Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis, Jr. said, “We feel for them (workers). We understand that prices of goods are getting higher for consumers.” However, he said based on past wage hike petitions filed by labor groups, “Hindi ito makakalusot (I don’t think this will get through)… Under the circumstances, there is no chance for that.” Defend Jobs Philippines announced last week that it will file a petition for an emergency across-the-board wage relief of P100 before the National Wages and Productivity Commission on Monday, February 22. The network consisting of unions and other labor groups said the increase is necessary for millions of workers to cope with the impact of the pandemic and afford basic goods. “Bigger companies can cover that but you have to remember 90% of businesses are small and medium enterprises. They could not handle that,” Mr. Ortiz-Luis, Jr. said. Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III previously said granting minimum wage hike petitions while the country is still reeling from the COVID-19 crisis may not be feasible for businesses. He noted that a number of establishments have already closed shop. As an alternative assistance to both employees and establishments, the Department of Labor and Employment last week said it submitted a proposal for a wage subsidy to the Department of Budget and Management. Around P62 billion to P188 billion is needed to fund the planned three-month subsidy program. Mr. Ortiz-Luis, Jr. said ECOP supports this proposal, adding it will help businesses cut costs and still keep their employees. — Gillian M. Cortez

Almost 450,000 overseas workers back to their hometowns

DFA

NEARLY 450,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) affected by the global coronavirus pandemic have been assisted back to their home provinces, the Labor department reported on Sunday. As of February 21, the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) said it has helped 447,076 OFWs return to their hometowns. The department began its program on helping OFWs go back to their home provinces in May last year. As of the first week of February this year, DoLE and the Department of Foreign Affairs have assisted in the repatriation of about 416,000 land- and sea-based overseas workers. — Gillian M. Cortez

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