Labor groups want minimum wage raised to at least ₱675

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 6) — Labor groups have renewed  calls to raise the minimum wage in the National Capital Region (NCR),  claiming workers need a pay of at least ₱675 a day to be able to afford  basic goods for their family.

The Regional Wage Board began hearings Thursday, with three  labor groups filing petitions for increase.

The Associated Labor Unions (ALU) proposed a ₱184 increase to bring the minimum wage up to ₱675, documents showed.

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) wanted a higher  adjustment of ₱259, for a total daily pay of ₱750.

Meanwhile, the Association of Minimum Wage Earners asked for a  lower ₱185 adjustment but paid in four consecutive tranches, equating to a ₱700 increase.

The group said this would bring the minimum wage closer to a "living wage" of ₱1,200, "to provide for the family's food and nonfood  expenditures, with sufficient allowance for savings and investments  for social security."

The minimum wage in Metro Manila was last adjusted in June 2016, pegged at  ₱491 a day for non-agricultural workers and ₱454 a day for agricultural workers.

The law prevents the government from changing rates for at least a year from the previous adjustment. With the lapse of the ban, the Regional Wage Board is receiving petitions again.

The main argument of labor groups is the "erosion" of the minimum  wage, claiming prices of basic goods have climbed much faster than  their pay.

"[Pay] increases, small as they were, have been overtaken by  increases in power and water rates, in health and education costs, the  prices of oil and its products…" ALU said in its petition.

TUCP petitioner Raffy Mapali added during the hearing: "The wage  increase isn't just about restoring purchasing power. It should be about  raising living standards too."

Meanwhile, the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) asked the government to dismiss all three petitions.

It said in a motion that the labor groups asked for an across-the-board  wage hike, beyond the jurisdiction of a Regional Wage Board.

The living wage also has no legal definition, the ECOP says. While the  term is stated in the Constitution, Congress has not implemented the  provision.

Business groups will air their side in a hearing on July 14. The  Board will also have a public consultation on July 27.

Other government agencies also presented to the Regional Wage Board on Tuesday, discussing the state of the economy, employment  and price movements in NCR this year.

Board Chair Johnson Cañete said these are also key factors to  consider when computing minimum wage adjustments.

He said in an interview, "We have to look into the poverty threshold, we  look into the average wage, and the price increases. We don't just look  at how much is being asked but how much can be given also."