Wage hike measures filed, move in PH Congress

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri on Tuesday filed Senate Bill No. 2002, or the Across-the-Board Wage Increase Act of 2023, which seeks to raise wages in the private sector across all regions by Php150.00.

“A decent life costs a decent wage,” said Zubiri. “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.”

“In the Senate, we addressed the collective bargaining of our employees’ union for increased benefits, in accordance with the rising costs of commodities,” he explained. “And now, with this bill, I hope to answer similar calls from workers across the country, with an across-the-board wage hike.”

The proposed wage hike will apply to the entire private sector, agricultural and non-agricultural, regardless of capitalization and number of employees.

At present, the National Capital Region has the highest daily nominal wage rate, at Php570.00 (non-agriculture), while the lowest is at Php316.00 (non-agriculture), for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Though the prescription of minimum wages in the private sector falls under the ambit of the Regional Wages and Productivity Boards, they are constrained to issuing only one wage order per year, unless they declare supervening conditions.

At the start of the year, the Philippines saw its highest inflation rate in fourteen years, hitting 8.7 percent. February welcomed a marginal decrease to 8.6 percent.

“While our GDP is going up, we have to make sure that our economic growth actually cascades to our people. Otherwise, we’re just widening the gap between rich and poor.

“What we want is to lift everyone up, broaden our middle-income class, and ensure that every Filipino has the means to enjoy a genuinely decent life. That means empowering people not just to survive, but to actually achieve a level of comfort that allows them to pursue their personal goals and interests, beyond just their work.”

Meanwhile, a bill proposing a P750 wage hike in the private sector filed by Makabayan Bloc hurdled a subcommittee in the House of Representatives.

Militant youth group Anakbayan said the development is an initial victory brought by collective efforts, but is aware that the fight for a livable wage is still ongoing.

If the bill passes, the current P570 minimum wage in NCR will be increased to P1,161. This matches the minimum livable wage for a family of five. All regions will receive the P750 wage hike.

For Anakbayan, this means a concrete improvement in the lives of the youth and their families. Something which the group believes the youth are ready to fight for.

But the group anticipates that despite the wage increase being aligned with the people’s needs, there will be fierce opposition to protect foreign interests.

Anakbayan National Chairperson Jeann Miranda cited NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan’s comments, which claimed that a wage hike will damage the economy by increasing the price of exports.

“Kahit na kailangang ng mamamayan ng wage increase, siguradong tututulan parin ito ng mga taong inuuna ang interes ng mga dayuhan. Andiyan ang mga katulad ni NEDA Sec. Balisacan, na kailan lang ay sinabing hindi pwedeng magtaas ang sahod dahil magmamahal ang exports natin at masisira lalo ang ekonomiya. Inuuna niya ang kapakanan ng mga dayuhang negosyante kaysa mga Pilipino.”

Despite this, Miranda maintains that the youth group will exert all its effort to fight for the wage increase, seeing it as a democratic right of the Filipino people.

“Alam ng kabataan na ang maayos na kalagayan sa buhay ay isang demokratikong karapatan at alam nila na tanging sa aktibo at sama-samang pagkilos ito maisasakatuparan. Makikiisa ang kabataan sa masa, aalamin ang kanilang kalagayan at ipaglaban ang kanilang interes!”