National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno welcomes Department of Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello’s recognition of the Filipino workers’ need for an immediate relief amidst their worsening hunger and poverty.
Secretary Bello’s push for a general wage increase is a result of workers’ arduous struggle for a P125 across-the-board wage hike since 1998. It is a positive development in workers’ clamor for a significant wage increase which for more than a decade have been rejected by previous administrations.
A P125 wage increase should immediately be implemented across-the-board and not through Regional Wage Boards which could be used by capitalists to only give measly increases or even deny the wage hike. However, P125 may also already be insufficient to give immediate relief to workers as the current minimum wage has already been left out by the ever increasing prices of basic goods and services.
Workers need an immediate relief that would at least bring the minimum wage closer to living standards. The gap between the mandated minimum wage and the actual amount needed by a family to live decently, the family living wage, has drastically widened over the years. The highest wage level in the country, P491 in the NCR, does not even come half of the estimated P1,096 family living wage.
To supplement the P125 increase, we urge the DOLE to immediately work on implementing a National Minimum Wage of P750 for private sector workers. Not only would it give an immediate relief to workers and their families, it would also negate the fragmentation and further pressing down of the minimum wage by the Wage Rationalization Law. It should also be regularly increased to meet living standards.
There is no standard minimum wage in the country. Currently, there are more than a thousand wage levels in the country. The rationalization of wages also put workers’ demands for a significant wage hike at the mercy of Regional Wage Boards who could only give insultingly measly increases.
We appreciate that the Duterte administration is one with workers in wanting wages in the provinces to be at par with wages in Metro Manila. There should therefore be no dilly-dallying in the implementation of a National Minimum Wage which is the only way to end the disparity of wages in the country.