By John Victor D. Ordoñez, Reporter

A NATIONAL CAPITAL Region (NCR) Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board has approved a P40 increase in the daily minimum wage in Metro Manila, the Department of Labor Employment (DoLE) said on Thursday.

The wage hike will bring the daily minimum wage P610 from P570 for workers outside the agriculture sector, and to P573 from P533 for those in the agriculture sector, service retail establishments with 15 or fewer workers, and manufacturing firms with less than 10 workers, it said in a statement.

“The wage board has once again tilted their decision on the capacity to pay of micro and small enterprises even without the benefit of figuring out or looking into their financial statements,” Partido Manggagawa  Chairman Renato B. Magtubo said in a Viber message. 

“That’s a wonderful development for our workers, although it’s not enough,” Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” F. Zubiri told reporters in a Viber chat.

The NCR wage board’s order was issued on June 26 and was affirmed by the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC) on June 27.

The higher minimum wages in the capital region will take effect on July 16, the Labor department said. The pay increase is expected to benefit about 1.1 million workers in Metro Manila, it added.

About 1.5 million workers earning above the minimum wage may indirectly benefit from the increase because companies may adjust their rates to correct “wage distortion.”

In June last year, the capital region’s wage board approved a P33 minimum wage hike to help workers cope with soaring prices.

The Unity for Wage Increase Now in March sought to raise the P570 daily minimum wage in Metro Manila to P1,100. The Kapatiran ng Mga Unyon at Samahang Manggagawa in December 2022 filed a petition seeking a P100 increase for the capital region.

Sarah Buena S. Mirasol, regional director of the Labor department and head of the NCR wage board, said last week the petitions would likely be resolved by July.

The P40 wage increase is not enough, Jerome Adonis, secretary-general of Kilusang Mayo Uno, told reporters in a Viber message.

“It is not enough to pay for an additional kilogram of rice for a family, and this is not even half of what trade unions and other labor groups had asked for in their petitions,” he said.

Lawmakers have filed bills seeking across-the-board minimum wage hikes for workers in the private and agriculture sectors to help them cope with spiraling prices.

The Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECoP) has said a legislated wage hike should also consider workers in less formal employment, noting that private sector workers only make up 16% of the labor force.

Labor groups have said raising the minimum wage in Metro Manila would not automatically fuel inflation or shutter small businesses.

“It is about transitioning our wage policy from a depressed to a living wage, which would continuously boost economic recovery,” Renato B. Magtubo, chairman of Partido Manggagawa, told a wage hike hearing on June 21.