MANILA, Philippines – A coalition of 47 labor groups yesterday gave its full backing for the government’s move to grant an across-the-board pay hike and set a national minimum wage.
In a statement, the Nagkaisa coalition said, the existing regional-based setting of minimum wage, which led to chronic poverty and inequality among workers must be replaced with a national minimum wage policy.
“The deformed wage fixing policy must be rectified now as the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is trying to do,” the coalition said.
According to Nagkaisa, the government must certify as urgent a proposed bill abolishing the regional wage boards and enact a measure for the adoption of a uniformed wage level nationwide.
Nagkaisa noted that since the Constitution was ratified, the workers’ demand for a family living wage was never addressed by the previous governments opted to maintain regionalization and containment of wages to the barest minimum.
Regional-based setting of wage, Nagkaisa said, created wide gaps in salary levels which is primarily determined by the employers’ capacity to pay rather than the workers’ right to a living wage.
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“The same problem can be seen in different wage levels in the public sector despite the salary standardization program,” the group said.
Thus, Nagkaisa said labor groups strongly support the DOLE’s recent announcement to work for the setting of a national minimum wage.
The labor groups are willing to work with the DOLE in the drafting of the new wage-fixing scheme.
“It is high time to stop the spiral race to the bottom by ending the regionalization and setting of wages to the barest minimum. We believe this can be done when government will treat the labor movement as main partner to this enormous reform tasks,” Nagkaisa said.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello earlier ordered all the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards (RTWPB) to conduct nationwide consultations on the legislative measures proposing for a P125 across-the-board general wage increase in the private sector.
Bello said the consultation is part of the study to look into the possibility of enacting a legislated P125 general wage increase in the private sector.
The consolidated findings from the consultations conducted by the 17 Regional Wage Boards will be submitted to the Office of the Secretary by Wednesday (Sept 14).