Labor groups uncertain subsidy for minimum-wage earners to get OK

In Photo: Workersare seen in file photo on one of the many construction projects in Metro Manila. Most construction workers are minimum-wage earners, and are among those being eyed to receive a subsidy endorsed by Department of Labor and Employment officials.

WILL he or won’t he?

Labor groups are divided on the possibility of President Duterte approving the proposal of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to provide government subsidy to minimum-wage earners.

Despite demanding the subsidy, the Associated Labor Union-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) said the proposal is unlikely to be approved by Duterte due to opposition from economic managers.

“I caution minimum-wage  workers not to expect they will benefit from the proposed subsidy. We expect the economic managers to recommend to President Duterte to turn it down,” ALU-TUCP Spokesman Alan Tanjusay said in a statement.

Tanjusay was referring to the previous statement of the National Economic Development Authority that the government will thumb down ALU’s proposal for a P500 subsidy for minimum-wage earners, as it will be too costly for the government.

Nonetheless, Tanjusay remained hopeful that Duterte will still consider approving the subsidy to allow workers to cope with the rising cost of living.

TUCP Vice President Luis Corral sees a strong chance Duterte will implement the program.

“Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III would not have made the pronouncement without prior consultations from other Cabinet members,” Corral told the BusinessMirror in a phone interview.

He said the P200 subsidy is much lower compared to what was initially proposed by ALU-TUCP.

He, however, expressed concern on how the subsidy will be distributed once it is approved.

“How will they determine its target beneficiaries? Will it be through the use of the database of the BIR [Bureau of Internal Revenue] or that of the SSS [Social Security System]? This needs to be clarified,” Corral said.

TUCP is proposing to have the distribution of the subsidy accompanied by a seminar, with minimum-wage earners oriented about their basic labor rights.

Last week the DOLE announced it is eyeing to provide a P200 monthly cash subsidy for 4.1 million minimum-wage earners this year. It will be raised to P300 per month in 2019 and P400 in 2020.

Image Credits: Nonoy Lacza

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A reporter who covers the labor beat for the BusinessMirror. He graduated with a journalism degree at the University of Santo Tomas in 2009.

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