Senate bill calls for wage hike of P150

SENATE President Juan Miguel F. Zubiri filed a bill on Tuesday seeking an increase the minimum wage for private sector workers of P150.

“If workers are putting in hours and hours of labor, day after day, and yet are still unable to afford their rent, bills, and basic necessities, then there is a problem,” Mr. Zubiri said in a statement.

“While our GDP (gross domestic product) is going up, we have to make sure that our economic growth actually cascades to our people,” he added. “Otherwise, we’re just widening the gap between rich and poor.”

Legislated wage hikes run counter to the advice given by government economic managers, who warned about the negative impact on the Philippines’ competitiveness.

If passed, Senate Bill 2002 or the Across-the-Board Wage Increase Act of 2023 will apply to the entire private sector, including agricultural workers, regardless of employer size and headcount.

The National Capital Region currently has the highest daily minimum wage of P570, with wages in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region the lowest at P316.

The objective, Mr. Zubiri said, is to “actually achieve a level of comfort that allows (workers) to pursue their personal goals and interests, beyond just their work.”

According to the think tank Ibon Foundation, the gap between workers’ wages and the estimated family living wage continues to widen. As of January, the living wage for a family in the capital region was estimated at P1,161, more than double the region’s minimum wage.

Headline inflation slowed to 8.6% in February from 8.7% in January. This marked the 11th consecutive month inflation was above the central bank’s 2-4% target.

“Despite the soaring inflation, however, the Regional Wages and Productivity Boards are constrained by law as they can only come out with a new wage order once every year, unless they declare supervening conditions,” Mr. Zubiri said in the bill’s explanatory note.

“Given the urgency of the situation, a legislated wage increase is called for to ease the effect of wage erosion brought about by inflation,” he added. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan