Labor group opposes wage hike exemption and deferment

DG file photo

Labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) opposed the call of employers for exemption and deferment of the minimum wage hikes for workers in the National Capital Region and Western Visayas.

“It is adding insult to injury to workers for the regional wage boards to exempt and defer the wage hike as demanded by employers. The minimum wage increases are not even enough to recover the value lost to inflation for the past three years. If the hikes are deferred and employers exempted then the most vulnerable workers are left with nothing,” PM national chair Rene Magtubo said.

On Friday, the Western Visayas regional wage board hiked the minimum wage by P55 to P110.

Meanwhile the NCR wage board announced yesterday a P33 increase, thus raising the minimum wage in Metro Manila to P570.

PM had earlier called for a P100 legislated wage hike.

Frank Carbon, vice president for the Visayas of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and chief executive officer of the Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry asked for a deferment of the pay hike.

The group averred that even small businesses can afford to give their workers a pay increase.

“Wag kayong kuripot! Before the pandemic, businesses, both big and small, accumulated revenues and profit without sharing the productivity gains to their workers. From 2001 to 2016, the economy doubled in size and productivity increased by 50% but real wages remained stagnant. The pie became larger but the slice of workers remained the same. Employers greedily monopolized all the new wealth produced by the blood and sweat of workers,” Magtubo explained.

He added “The economic slump is not an argument against a pay increase. Instead it is a reason to provide money to consumers through a wage hike. Boosting the purchasing power of consumers—especially lowly paid workers who spend most of their take-home pay compared to high income earners—will pump prime the economy and lead to the revival of MSMEs.”

The group pointed out that a MSME with 10 workers, will only incur an additional P330 in daily wage costs or P8,580 in monthly labor expenses which translates to a mere 0.3% of its P3 million asset size.

“This will definitely not bankrupt an MSME. But a lack of market because of low consumption will kill an MSME. A wage hike will create a virtuous cycle in the economy. Capitalists simply do not want to share the profit they have accumulated through the decade and a half of sustained economic growth,” Magtubo said.

“The International Labour Organization (ILO), in its Minimum Wage Policy Guide, asserts that exemptions defeat the very purpose of the minimum wage which is to protect the income of the most vulnerable segment of the working class. ILO experts also argue that a plethora of minimum wages serves as a barrier to efficient and effective enforcement of minimum wages. This is precisely the problem in the Philippines where even in one region such as Calabarzon there are different minimum wages across different towns,” he stated.