MANILA, Philippines — Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said, on Tuesday May 29, that there might be an increase in the minimum wage “within the month” but it would not be as high as the P750 per day minimum wage that labor groups and lawmakers are demanding.
“Within the month, kasi very clear ‘yung instruction ng Presidente address the issue of rising prices,” Bello said.
“Hindi kaya ‘yan (P750 minimum wage). Kailangan pang pag-aralan nang mabuti ‘yan. Baka instead of helping the employees, baka mawawalan ng employment,” he added.
The Labor Chief said the possible increase may be considered by the regional wage boards.
Bello said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) would tackle the various wage hike proposals with several government agencies and labor groups on June 5.
P750 national minimum wage
At present, the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC) pegged the minimum wage for non-agriculture workers in the National Capital Region (Metro Manila) at P512 for an average workday of eight hours, or 40 hours a week.
But last Monday, the House Makabayan bloc filed House Bill 7787 seeking to increase the national minimum wage to P750 in a bid to “ease the suffering” of Filipinos amid the soaring prices of commodities.
If passed into law, the daily statutory minimum wages of private sector workers in both agricultural and non-agricultural enterprises nationwide would be increased to a uniform national minimum wage rate of P750.
The bill also seeks to amend the existing Labor Code and to abolish the NWPC and its 17 Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards (RTWPB), mandated to fix and regulate the minimum wage.
The bill also mandates stiffer fines for employees who would fail to pay their employees the minimum wage.
From the current P25,000 to P100,000 fine, the bill states that violators would be fined a “fixed 100 percent of the total amount of the wage increment due the employees to be multiplied by the number of working days the wage increment has been unpaid to or imprisonment of not less than three years nor more than five years, or both such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court.”
The employer concerned would also be ordered to pay the employees moral damages of P50,000 each employee plus an amount equivalent to double the unpaid benefits owing to the employees.
But these moral damages and indemnity would not absolve the employer from the criminal liability imposable under the Act.
The business permit of the violating entity would also be suspended for one month to three years for second offense, and its business permit cancelled for third offense.
Meanwhile, the Association of Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP), the country’s biggest confederation of workers’ groups, has called for the synchronization of all pay rates to a uniform P800 across-the-board daily minimum wage for all workers nationwide. (davaotoday.com)