Senate approves measure seeking P100 minimum wage hike

Senate approves measure seeking P100 minimum wage hike
SunStar File

THE Senate approved on third and final reading on Monday, February 19, 2024, a measure seeking to increase the daily minimum wage of workers in the private sector by P100.

With 20 affirmative votes, zero negative votes and no abstention, the Senate passed Senate Bill 2534, or “An Act Providing for a 100 Pesos Daily Minimum Wage Increase for Employees and Workers in the Private Sector," which was authored by Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and sponsored by Senator Jinggoy Estrada.

Senators Lito Lapid, Imee Marcos, Cynthia Villar and Mark Villar were not present in the session hall during the voting.

The measure covers all minimum wage earners in the private sector in the entire country, whether agricultural or non-agricultural. Currently, there are 4.2 million minimum wage earners in the country.

In a statement, Estrada said the measure is responsive to the needs of the Filipinos, especially amid the rising cost of living and soaring prices of basic commodities.

He noted that the last legislated wage hike that was implemented in the country dates back to 1989 with the enactment of Republic Act (RA) 6727, or the Wage Rationalization Act.

Under RA 6727, wages would be set on a regional basis by the regional wage boards.

Estrada said that while he recognizes the concerns that the proposed law could adversely impact businesses and impede economic growth, “a flourishing economy relies on the vitality of its workforce, who are considered the lifeblood of enterprises.”

"At dapat nating pangalagaan at unahin ang interes ng ating mga manggagawa (And we must protect and prioritize the interests of our workers)," he said.

"Let us not underestimate the ripple effect of the Senate's collective action. A higher minimum wage does not only impact the lives of those directly affected but reverberates throughout our communities, stimulating local economies, and ensuring that people would have more money in their pockets to meet their basic needs," he added.

Senator Grace Poe noted that based on a study conducted by the Ibon Foundation in January, a family of five in the National Capital Region needs P1,193 per day or P25,946 a month to live decently.

She said it is almost half of the existing minimum wage in the region which is pegged at P610.

“Ano bang mabibili ng P610 (What can P610 buy)? Considering the food threshold, a family of five will need at least P300 daily to meet the minimum basic food needs. This leaves the household around P310 to cover such needs as housing, tubig, kuryente, medical care, education at transportation. So 'yung para sa iba sa atin, na pag sinabi, nakita natin ang value meal ng McDonald's or Jollibee na less than P100, parang mura ba 'yon kung ganito kaliit ang sinusuweldo mo, talagang pang espesyal na okasyon na lamang ang mga ganito,” she said.

“Today, I join our colleagues and the good sponsor in this noble pursuit to provide our hardworking Filipino labor force with a decent living wage,” she added.

Senator Francis Escudero clarified that the proposed measure will not affect the Wage Rationalization Act of 1989, the Barangay Micro Business Enterprises Act of 2002 or small companies that only have 10 employees or those with an investment of P3 million or less.

Meanwhile, in a television interview, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma warned of the possible increase I the prices of basic goods and services if the bill is passed into law.

“Alam po natin na karamihan ng ating mga negosyante, nandoon sa maliliit na kategorya. Subalit meron po sigurong kakayanin, meron ding hindi kakayanin,” he said.

(We know that most of our entrepreneurs are in small categories. But there are people who can handle it, and there are people who can't handle it.)

“Kapag merong pag-uusap tungkol sa pagtaas ng suweldo, medyo nakakaramdam na po tayo ng pagtaas ng presyo ng pangunahing bilihin. Iyon pong may kinalaman sa transport. So para pong ano 'yan chain reaction. Kaya ang lagi naman pong tinatanaw ng DOLE sana mabalanse,” he added.

Laguesma said, though, that they will come up with interventions to aid micro and small businesses in case the minimum wage increases by P100 and to ensure that workers will remain employed.

Federation of Free Workers president Sonny Matula urged the House of Representatives to immediately approve the counterpart bill of SB 2534, House Bill 7871, which proposes a P150 daily wage hike, and members of Makabayan bloc’s House Bill 7568, which seeks an across-the-board daily wage increase of P750.

“Ang bola ay nasa House of Representatives. Di dapat sila matutulog tungkol dito,” he said.

“Our eyes are now on the HOR. We will persuade them to shoot the ball,” he added. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)

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