THE GOVERNMENT of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. should review the regional wage-setting system after the Metro Manila wage board approved a paltry P40 increase in the daily minimum pay, according to a labor group.

“This only proves once again what we have been saying all these years — that the regional wage-setting mechanism is failing the working class,”  Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa Secretary-General Josua T. Mata said in a Viber message at the weekend.

The National Capital Region (NCR) Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board approved the hike on June 29, bringing the daily minimum wage to P610 for workers outside the agriculture sector.

The minimum wage was also increased to P573 for those in the agriculture sector, service retail establishments with 15 or fewer workers and manufacturing companies with fewer than 10 workers.

The order, which takes effect on July 16, is expected to benefit about 1.1 million workers in Metro Manila, the Labor department said last week.

In March, the Unity for Wage Increase Now sought to raise the P570 daily minimum wage in Metro Manila to P1,100.

The Kapatiran ng Mga Unyon at Samahang Manggagawa in December filed a petition seeking a P100 increase for the capital region.

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

Every wage order approved by a Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board must be approved by the Labor secretary. Wage boards can only act on wage petitions a year after a region’s last wage order.

Mr. Mata said a review of the wage-setting process is crucial since many workers would still live in poverty even after the wage hike.

This comes after International Labour Organization (ILO) Director-General Gilbert F. Houngbo’s visit to the Philippines last week, during which he met with labor groups and employer representatives, and heads of government agencies.

The Federation of Free Workers (FFW) said last week labor groups would continue to push a nationwide legislated wage hike of P150.

“This legislation holds immense potential to significantly enhance the economic circumstances of our workers and their families,” it said in a statement on June 30.

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

In March, Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” F. Zubiri filed a bill that seeks to increase the minimum wage for these workers by P150.

The senator called the P40 wage hike a “wonderful development for our workers,” but said it is not enough.

At the House of Representatives, the Makabayan coalition proposed a wage hike of P750 for all private sector workers, including those working in special economic zones, freeports and in the agriculture sector.

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.

“The wage-setting system has failed to live up to its mandate of ensuring that workers get a fair share of the fruits of their labor,” Mr. Mata said.

“Truth is, in all the regions around the country, minimum wages are way below the poverty threshold.” — John Victor D. Ordoñez