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P40 NCR wage hike to take effect while ‘living wage’ petition is heard

THE Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) on Tuesday said the P40 minimum wage hike in the National Capital Region (NCR) will take effect on July 16 even with an appeal pending from labor unions seeking a living wage.

The National Wages Productivity Commission (NWPC) has 60 days to act on the appeal from the day it was filed, July 3, DoLE said in a statement.

The appeal was filed by the Alliance of Nationalist and Genuine Labor Organizations, Labor Alliance for National Development, Gabay ng Unyon sa Telekomunikasyon at Serbisyo, and Pinagkaisang Lakas ng Manggagawa ng Manila Bay.

“The NWPC said that the appeal is part of the minimum wage determination process and shall be acted upon promptly,” the DoLE said.

On June 29, the NCR Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board approved a P40 increase in the daily minimum wage, bringing the daily minimum wage to P610 a day from P570.

The hike also increased the minimum wage to P573 for agriculture and service retail establishments with 15 or fewer workers.

DoLE earlier said the pay increase is expected to benefit about 1.1 million workers in Metro Manila.

Under the NWPC’s rules, a wage order may be appealed if the wage board can be shown to have abused its discretion by failing to comply with the guidelines in determining a regional wage increase.

DoLE quoted the labor groups as saying that the recent pay increase is insufficient as a living wage considering the rising prices of basic services and commodities.

They estimated that a minimum wage should be P1,161 to suffice as a living wage in the capital region.

Under the Labor Code, wage boards must consider demands for a living wage, movements in the consumer price index, changes in each region’s cost of living, and the needs of workers and their families.

The Unity for Wage Increase Now earlier filed a petition to raise the previous 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.

Last week, Labor Undersecretary Benedicto Ernesto R. Bitonio, Jr. said the regional wage boards of Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Western Visayas and Central Visayas will likely decide on pending wage petitions by September.

The wage boards are scheduled to hold their public hearings and consultations in July and August, he said.

Legislators have also proposed across-the-board minimum wage increases for workers in the private and agriculture industries to help them cope with inflation.

In March, Senate President Juan Miguel F. Zubiri filed a bill seeking to increase the minimum wage for these workers by P150.

The senator has called the P40 wage hike a “wonderful development for our workers,” but described it as insufficient.

Mr. Bitonio earlier told BusinessWorld that the recent minimum wage hike brings pay in Metro Manila above the poverty threshold as calculated based on 2021 data.

“A (minimum wage hike) also ensures that there is sufficient space for collective bargaining and other bipartite mechanisms for establishing better working terms and conditions, including wages,” he said in an e-mail on July 4. — John Victor D. Ordoñez

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