DESPITE the rising cost of living and easing of quarantine restrictions, the country’s largest labor group sees no need for a wage hike for now.
In a virtual forum last Sunday, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) spokesperson Alan Tanjusay said they observed that the “real” value of existing minimum wage nationwide has significantly declined after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
To note, since the government started imposing lockdowns in March 2020 to contain the spread of the pandemic, the regional wage boards have decided to defer issuing new wage orders.
“The minimum wage is currently pegged, at its highest value, at P537,” Tanjusay said, citing the minimum wage for non-agriculture workers in the National Capital Region (NCR).
But given the impact of wage “erosion” caused by rising cost of living such as fuel prices, he noted that the purchasing power of the said amount is now around P430, which is consistent with the P428.23 “real wage” data of the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC) in NCR as of last October.
“So that is almost a P100 (wage) erosion,” Tanjusay said.
This trend, he said, is particularly felt by workers, who are not members of a labor union.
“For those with a union, their gradually increase because they have collective bargaining negotiations, where it is scheduled,” Tanjusay said.
Capacity to pay
TUCP is among the labor groups, which actively file wage petitions before the regional wage boards, particularly in NCR.
Tanjusay, however, said they are currently holding off filing for a new round of wage hike petitions in consideration of the situation of many establishments, which are still struggling to recover from the business disruptions caused by the pandemic.
“Well, we are generally looking at the idea or principle of capacity to pay or provide wage increase ,” Tanjusay said.
The labor leader said they will continue to monitor the economic situation with the wage boards to determine the proper time to ask for wage hikes.
To note, the government started relaxing restrictions on public movement and business operations earlier this month amid the rising numbers of the country’s vaccinated people and decline in the number of Covid-19 cases.
Many business leaders hope the easing of restrictions will allow many establishments to recover before the end of the year.