MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has directed wage boards across the country to expedite their review of minimum wages in response to skyrocketing fuel prices.
According to Bello, the skyrocketing prices of oil products caused by the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine may be a compelling reason for wage boards to recommend adjustments to workers’ minimum wages.
He stressed, however, that setting and adjusting the minimum wage will have to be a balancing act between workers and businesses.
Bello said: “Minimum wage cannot be very low as it will have very small effect in protecting workers and their families against poverty. If set too high, it will have an adverse employment effect. There should be a balance between two sets of considerations.”
“Every year, we have what we call an anniversary period where we make an assessment of all petitions received. One petition called for a uniform increase of PhP 750 in the minimum wage nationwide,“ Bello furthered.
Bello expects that wage boards will be able to submit their recommendations by the end of April.
According to Bello, who chairs the Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board, the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards (RTWPBs), along with the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and representatives from both the labor and employers groups, monitor wage levels, assess economic factors, and make recommendations for the adjustment of minimum wages throughout the country as a matter of procedure.
The current daily minimum wage in the National Capital Region (NCR), for example, of P537 may no longer be sufficient to cover the cost of basic commodities such as food, electricity, and water bills. The minimum wage was last adjusted to a range of P500 to P537 a day in 2018, when tight rice supplies pushed consumer prices up 5.2% year-on-year, the fastest in over nine years.