TWO presidential candidates voiced support for a minimum wage review on Thursday, citing soaring prices for fuel and basic necessities.
Senator Panfilo M. Lacson, Sr. said in a radio interview that authorities need to explore “whether it is necessary to adjust the minimum wage, and by how much.”
Speaking to Bombo Radyo, he said the government needed to strike a balance between the interests of workers and the ability of employers to pay higher wages.
A second presidential candidate, labor leader Leodegario Q. de Guzman, welcomed an order issued by Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III to review the current minimum wage parameters.
“I openly accept Secretary Bello’s order to review the minimum wage due to rising commodity prices,” De Guzman told reporters in a Viber message. “However, it is not enough to simply revise.”
Mr Bello said on Wednesday that rising fuel prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could serve as a “compelling reason” for wage boards to revise minimum wages.
Wages councils can only reset minimum wages on the anniversary date of the previous wage action, although there is a provision for extraordinary circumstances.
Mr. De Guzman noted that following the minimum wage review, the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) should direct regional tripartite wage commissions to push for a substantial increase in wages.
It supports a national minimum wage of P750.
“Each year we have what we call an anniversary period where we take stock of all the petitions received. A petition called for a uniform increase of 750 pesos in the minimum wage across the country,” Bello said on Wednesday.
Mr De Guzman said the DoLE should deal with current petitions from labor groups and not wait for union representatives in different regions to file additional petitions.
“We should immediately set a national minimum wage of 750 pesos in all national wage commissions, because this demand is on the side of justice,” he said.
According to the National Wages and Productivity Commission, the minimum wage in the National Capital Region is currently set at 537 pesos per day, although in some areas it does not exceed 310 pesos.
The National Economic and Development Authority said the combined income needed for a family of five is 42,000 pesos per month to stay above the poverty line. This is based on the assumption that two household members each earn 21,000 pesos per month, which would exempt them from paying income tax under the tax reform law.
“It is timely that Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has called a meeting of the tripartite wage commissions to discuss possible adjustments to the minimum wage for our workers,” Lacson said.
Mr. Lacson mentioned his meetings with workers complaining about the high cost of goods and services, in part because of high fuel prices.
On Tuesday, fuel prices rose by 10and consecutive week of 3.60 PPP per liter of gasoline. The corresponding increase was P5.85 for diesel and P4.10 for kerosene. Since the beginning of the year, the prices of petrol, diesel and kerosene have increased by P13.25, P17.50 and P14.40 respectively.
While the wealthy can absorb the higher cost of living, ordinary families cannot, Lacson said.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could continue to drive up oil prices further, which could push inflation above the target range for a second straight year, the governor of Bangko Sentral ng said on Tuesday. Pilipinas, Benjamin E. Diokno.
“Based on the BSP oil price simulation, inflation could settle above the target range of 2% to 4%, only if crude oil prices average above 95.00 dollars a barrel in 2022 and 2023,” he said. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan, John Victor D. Ordonez