P100 wage hike welcomed but deemed insufficient amid inflation — groups

February 22, 2024 - 6:03 PM
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Construction workers are pictured at the construction site of an apartment building in Pasay, Metro Manila in the Philippines May 22, 2017. (Reuters/Erik De Castro/File Photo)

A wage hike has been approved on third and final reading by the Senate despite opposition from some businessmen, who previously cited concerns in hurting small enterprises.

Should the bill become a law, workers in the private sector nationwide will earn P100 more daily.

While considered a triumph, progressive groups said that the wage hike is still not enough to cover Filipino families’ everyday needs.

“The passage of the P100 wage hike bill at the Senate is a welcome relief but still not enough to bridge the huge gap between current wage levels and the family living wage of P1,200,” Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) president Renato Reyes said on X (formerly Twitter).

“Wages have been eroded by oil price hikes, fare hikes as well as increases in prices of food,” he added.

The lowest minimum wage is currently at P336 in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, while the highest is at P610 in the National Capital Region.

“That P100 wage hike would not even be enough to afford the basic commodities after prices of services/goods go up again,” said one X user.

“In Belgium, there’s a mandatory 2% salary hike every time inflationary price index reaches 2%, but there’s a strong price regulation to balance it,” she added.

Research and advocacy group IBON foundation reported that the wage in the country has not caught up with inflation through time, and has declined by 26% on average across all regions.

Rep. Raoul Manuel (Kabataan Partylist) shared the same sentiment.

“P100 wage hike will merely compensate for the eroded value of money since pandemic,” wrote Manuel on X (formerly Twitter).

He further explained that the wage hike will not hurt micro, small, and medium enterprises, contrary to what some House of Representatives members argued.

Rep. Joey Salceda (Albay, 2nd District) earlier told the press that wage hike should only be applied to big companies to spare MSMEs from burden.

Likewise, the National Economic and Development Authority opposed the proposed wage hike, citing that MSMEs could afford it and may be forced to lay-off workers and increase prices.

IBON Foundation called these claims “baseless”, citing that employee compensation is only 10.9% of total business expenses on average according to the 2021 Annual Survey of Philippine Business and Industry.

It added that while 98.6% of establishments in the country are MSMEs, 54.4% of workers are still employed in large firms, and the remaining 45.6% are in MSMEs.

Progressive group Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan condemned those who oppose the wage hike measure. It said that opponents only use MSMEs as “a shield against wage hikes.”