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TUCP: Pass Wage Recovery Act of 2023—across-the-board ₱150 wage hike

Trade Union Congress of the Philippines - TUCP

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) through its Party-list Representative, House Deputy Speaker Raymond Democrito C. Mendoza, filed HB No. 7871, the “Wage Recovery Act of 2023”, that seeks to provide a legislated across-the-board wage recovery increase of ₱150 in the daily wages of workers and employees in the private sector nationwide.

“Workers can no longer afford to wait for the regional wage boards to act. Since late last year, TUCP was already calling on the wage boards to address the steady decline in the real value of wages due to surging inflation but TUCP’s call fell on deaf ears. Unfortunately, it seems that workers will be left with an empty bag as the wage boards are taking their sweet time in the face of increasing hunger ” said Deputy Speaker Mendoza.

“The TUCP also recommended win-win policy solutions for workers and employers, such as the provision by employers to their workers of cost-of-living allowances that could be used as a tax credit by the business owners, or a one-time, big-time ₱5,000 subsidy from Government for minimum and near-minimum wage earners. But our economic managers simply shut the door on these options. In the face of their insensitivity to what is clearly a survival crisis for millions of workers, the TUCP is compelled to file this important bill,” argued Deputy Speaker Mendoza.

“Both workers and businesses are badly hit by the surging inflation and continue to suffer through the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and climate change concerns. Workers have sacrificed for far too long and are now on the brink. The TUCP feels that this bill is the urgent, actionable, and reasonable course of action that we should now take as a nation through legislation,” underscored Deputy Speaker Mendoza.

“There is an imperative need for wage legislation in the face of the soaring food and electricity prices. We call out both the Department of Energy and the Energy Regulatory Commission for their abject failure to bring down power rates, and the NBI and Customs for their failure to crack down and penalize unscrupulous middlemen, hoarders, and smugglers gaming the food sector, seemingly at will. We remind everyone that while working families struggle to tighten their belt and their children try to fit themselves into an ever-shrinking blanket, the power cartel and those gaming the food sector are merrily laughing all the way to the bank,” explained TUCP Vice President Luis C. Corral.

“Our workers today are not just trapped in low-quality jobs, their already low wages are further depressed such that the ₱570 minimum wage in NCR translates to a real value of a measly ₱482. Filipino workers are becoming a class of the permanently working poor while their children are going to become the next generation of ENDO workers,” lamented TUCP VP Corral.

Based on February 2023 consumer price index (CPI) figures, the purchasing power lost from the current minimum wages across the regions range from ₱55 to ₱89, with the national average lost from daily minimum wages is ₱73 per day.

“Beyond recovering the purchasing power lost, it is also high time that workers be given an equity supplement for every year since 1989, when R.A. 6727 or the Wage Rationalization Act was enacted, that there was no substantial increase in wages, hence the necessity of an across-the-board ₱150 wage recovery increase,” added Deputy Speaker Mendoza.

“The wages of workers should climb together with productivity because it is only right and just that workers, who create the wealth of our nation, get their fair share of our economic growth. But because of the dismal track record of the regional wage boards in dampening legitimate wage demands by setting too low wages, workers’ wages stagnated even as our gross domestic product (GDP) and labor productivity steadily rose,” explained Deputy Speaker Mendoza.

“Addressing the perennial argument that wage hikes only benefit the formally employed and not the more significant informal economy, this bill affords an across-the-board wage hike for all workers and employees in the private sector, including the invisible ENDO workers as well as those in the informal sector who are really part-and-parcel of the supply chains feeding into larger firms and employers. Minimum core labor standards, especially adequate wages, must apply to all workers,” said TUCP VP Corral.

This bill also provides for wage recovery subsidies available for micro and small enterprises and which shall be funded through the annual appropriations of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Since this is merely a wage recovery effort, this does not preclude the filing of wage hike petitions through the regional wage boards as provided by the Wage Rationalization Act of 1989. “Wage boards have been studying the minimum wage amid skyrocketing prices of commodities for far too long already. We urge the wage boards to immediately convene and for the tripartite discussion to begin as soon as possible. Wage boards must act now on all wage hike petitions filed across the regions,” said TUCP VP Corral.

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