Wage boards urged to set ‘realistic’ wage hike for workers

MANILA -- The business sector is urging regional wage boards to come up with a "realistic" wage hike for workers that will ensure improvement of their living conditions but at the same time will not unduly burden entrepreneurs so the inflow of investments can be sustained.

Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) chairman emeritus Francis Chua said labor groups seeking for wage increases must work with the government to arrive at a wage structure that will be amenable to both the business and labor sectors.

“Labor groups should work with the government to come up with realistic wage hike. Any wage increases should be in level with the strong purchasing power of peso for it to become sustainable,” Chua said in an interview with the Philippines News Agency (PNA) Monday in reaction to a petition filed by labor group Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) seeking for a PHP710 increase in daily minimum wage for workers in Metro Manila amid increasing costs of goods and services.

The TUCP filed the petition Monday before the National Capital Region Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board.

“We are hoping that the tripartite board will be able to come up with a compromise solution on the wage increase issue,” Chua stated as he expressed concern that any wage increases might cause significant inflationary effects that will affect the operations of businesses in the country.

The Philippine Statistics Authority reported earlier this month that the inflation rate for March has declined to 3.3 percent which is the lowest level in 15 months due to easing food prices.

The business leader noted that higher labor costs are a significant factor that the Philippines has lower foreign investments compared to its neighboring countries in the Asian region.

“Investments go to other countries such as China because of lower labor costs,” according to Chua.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas recently reported that net inflows of foreign direct investments declined by 38.2 percent year on year to USD609 million in January this year from USD986 million in the same period last year due to the worsening trade war between the United States and China which resulted in investors pulling out their funds from local equities markets.

The TUCP stated that minimum wage in Metro Manila will increase to PHP1,247 per day if their petition is approved by the tripartite wage board.

The minimum wage for Metro Manila workers is currently set at PHP537 per day.

The TUCP is also set to file separate wage hike petitions in other regions within the week. (PNA)

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