DOLE: Wage hike remains uncertain

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MANILA — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Wednesday said a wage hike for workers across the country remains uncertain despite the continuing rise in inflation.

According to Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma, Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards (RTWPB) are still undertaking their separate studies on whether or not to grant a wage increase. Among them is the RTWPB in the National Capital Region (NCR) which heard the pending wage petition last week.

“The process is ongoing,” Laguesma said while stressing that the RTWPBs have to be cautious in making a decision. “This cannot be done in haste because it would affect, most of all, the greater number of small businesses in our country.”

When asked whether a wage hike could be expected in the coming year, the labor chief refused to preempt the decision of RTWPBs.

He explained that an appeal against whatever decision is made by RTWPBs would end up with the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC), which he chairs.

“So at this point, we do not want to make a premature statement on that,” said Laguesma.

According to NWPC executive director Criselda Sy, only the NCR wage board has received a formal petition for salary adjustment at this time.

Sy said workers from four regions just received this December the second tranche of the salary hike granted by their respective RTWPBs this year.

In undertaking a review of the existing wage rates, she said the RTWPBs need to consider many factors, including the rule prohibiting the issuance of wage adjustment within a period of one year unless there is a supervening condition.

None of the RTWPBs has declared a supervening condition that would necessitate an immediate wage increase, said Sy.

She noted that the labor market is very strong, so the government is more focused on enhancing the competitiveness of workers.

Besides, workers can negotiate for salary adjustments at the firm level even without the RTWPB issuing a wage order, she said.

This year, the 16 RTWPBs issued new wage orders granting minimum wage earners pay hikes ranging from P30 to P110.

The RTWPBs also granted between P500 to P2,500 salary adjustments for domestic helpers employed in various regions.

While admitting that the rising inflation impacted the wages of workers, Sy said they have to conduct a study to determine whether salary hike is the proper action to take to address wage erosion.

The NWPC official said the target of the minimum wage is the vulnerable sectors only, but the impact of a salary hike could be massive on the macro level.

She said that RTWPBs should also consider the impact of the wage hike on employment and investment.

Sy stated that though the RTWPBs are yet to grant a second round of salary hikes, the government is extending other assistance to help the workers cope with rising inflation.

House committees to hold hearings during break

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Spread the loveMANILA – The House of Representatives has authorized for its committees to conduct hearings during the five-week congressional break, extending until late April.