Manila's minimum wage earners to get salary hike next week

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Monday, May 2, 2011

THE head of the National Capitol Region (NCR) wage board affirmed Monday President Benigno Aquino III's commitment to provide minimum wage earners in Metro Manila their much awaited salary increase next week.

The Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB)-NCR has been planning to issue a wage order by next week even prior to Aquino announcement, said the board's chairman Raymundo Agravante.

"Yun din po ang naka-calendar sa amin. It has long been set by the board to issue the wage order next week," said Agravante.


However, he said that being able to meet the imposed deadline would largely depend on how the public hearing will take place.

"Let us first see what will happen in our public hearing," Agravante said.

On Sunday, Aquino said Metro Manila workers will get their wage increase come next week after issuing a directive to all regional wage boards to speed up their deliberations on the minimum wage rates.

On Monday, the RTWPB-NCR held its first public hearing over the P75 wage hike petition filed by the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP).

Based on the rules of minimum wage fixing, a public hearing is necessary in any petition to adjust the minimum wage.

After the hearing, the NCR Regional Board will decide how much and in what form the wage increase be will be.

In Metro Manila, the last wage order was issued back in July 2010, wherein an additional P22 was added to the basic rate, bringing the current minimum wage rate at P404.

Stop-gap measures are empty promises

For its part, the Health Alliance for Democracy (Head) told Sun.Star that President Aquino's stop-gap measures to stem rising price of commodities and dwindling incomes are nothing but empty promises.

Millions of Filipino workers are awaiting "substantial" salary increases to cope with the cost of living of P917 for a family of six in Metro Manila as of 2008, the group said.

Just like other groups, the 27-year-old Head is batting for a P6,000 across-the-board pay increases for all government workers.

On Sunday, Aquino ordered the release of the third tranche of wage hike under the Salary Standardization Law in June for over a million state workers.

He also asked the regional wage boards in Metro Manila and Eastern Visayas to come up with a new wage order soon for private employees.

"This will not even make a dent on the growing economic need of employees, vis-à-vis the skyrocketing costs of basic commodities. The group is gravely disappointed in the government's insensitivity to the plight of government workers," Head said.

Last year, Senator Loren Legarda filed a bill that would grant a salary grade 10 status (P14,641) status to barangay health workers, mandatory Christmas bonus and coverage to the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP).

Senate Bill 1384 also seeks to mandate the Department of Health to provide one health worker per barangay in light of a cholera outbreak in Palawan that killed dozens of people.

At present, barangay health workers receive a monthly honorarium of only P1,000 a month.

"Even with their relentless efforts in providing health care to our barangay folk who could not afford hospital fees, they are underpaid and not even provided with a health insurance program," she said.

The bill is pending approval at the Senate Committee on Health and Demography chaired by Senator Pia Cayetano.

Palace defends Aquino

On Monday, Malacanang defended the President from the criticisms hurled against him in connection with his Labor Day message last Sunday.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the President merely announced the things that are "doable" and not those intended to enhance the image of the Aquino administration.

"We don't give measures na pampa-pogi lang. The things the President announced are things that we can afford to do," Lacierda said.

Several groups criticized the President, noting that his Labor Day announcement did not meet their expectations.

The Kilusang Mayo Uno also stressed that what the public needs is significant salary increase instead of non-wage benefits such as rice subsidies for farmers.

"The President already mentioned his preference for the wage boards to immediately act on the petitions," said Lacierda. (AMN/Virgil Lopez/Jill Beltran/Sunnex)

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