By VANNE ELAINE P. TERRAZOLA
Senators believed that the government should look into granting workers a “just” living wage, instead of just raising the minimum daily salaries.
They said this in the wake of the petition filed by the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), which is seeking an additional P710 in the daily minimum wage of workers in Metro Manila Manila. The group said the current P537 minimum wage is not enough to afford the basic needs of Filipino families.
But Senator Joel Villanueva, chair the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development, urged concerned government agencies to study, rather, grant workers a living wage appropriate to the country’s current economic situation.
“I propose that we look at living wage. We should examine this issue in our current social and economic context and work toward the achievement of it. I implore DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) and NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority) to work together and propose to the legislature a study on the living wage and the necessary policy reforms to achieve this,” Villanueva said in a statement.
Senator Aquilino Pimentel III likewise said the priority should be the living wage of workers.
“I support a just living wage for our workers. The exact amount has to be computed. But this concept must be the one advanced and not simply a minimum wage,” he said in a text message to reporters.
Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito said he will not oppose the proposed wage hike but believed that this should be reviewed carefully for its possible effects, particularly on businesses.
“Depende basta kaya, bakit hindi? Siyempre tumataas naman ang presyo ng bilihin kung ilang taon ng walang pag-increase sa sahod baka naman [pwede] kung kaya [pero] kailangan mo balansihin kasi baka yung negosyo ang mahirapan at mawala (If it’s feasible, why not? Of course, rising prices and its effect on employers should be weighed before adjusting salaries),” Ejercito said in a radio interview over the weekend.
While he is supportive of the call to raise the daily salaries of workers, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the matter is best discussed after the midterm elections.
“I can understand the timing because of May 1st but it’s also election period, therefore, it would be wise to address it after the elections. In principle, I am supportive [of it],” Sotto told reporters.