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(UPDATE 3 - 6:52 p.m.) MANILA, Philippines – Minimum wage workers in Metro Manila will receive P22 more in their daily basic pay as the Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity Board in the region approved the amount to be given as emergemcy cost of living allowance (ECOLA).
Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, who made the announcement at the Department of Labor and Employment, said the ECOLA is part of the minimum wage, which now totals P426.
She said that as ECOLA, it will not be part of the calculation for overtime pay, night differential, and 13th month pay.
Baldoz said the amount will not have an inflationary effect as a Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas study indicates that the threshold is P25.
The increase will become effective 15 days after the publication of the decision in a newspaper of general circulation.
Meanwhile, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, which was asking for a P75 daily wage hike for minimum wage earners in the region, was disappointed by the "measly" increase.
The wage board, the TUCP said, "missed this important opportunity to raise workers' standard of living in NCR (National Capital Region), and to help improve equity as mandated by law."
"It further institutionalizes the primacy of profits over people, a few people over the masses of suffering workers. That was a shameless decision. The TUCP representative in the RTWPB dissented in the decision. TUCP calls on Congress to rectify this bad, bad, decision," the TUCP said.
The militant Kilusang Mayo Uno also criticized the wage increase.
"We are calling on Congress, as well as the Senate, to compare and contrast workers' starvation wages and capitalists' soaring profits and give workers a much-deserved economic relief in the soonest possible time. In particular, we are calling on the House Labor Committee, headed by Northern Samar Rep. Emil Ong, to immediately take up and pass House Bill 375," said Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general.
Soluta said approving the measure "is the single best move" that Congress "can undertake to uphold the interests of the Filipino workers."
"Workers want a legislated wage hike because it is only through legislation that we have the chance of getting a substantial wage hike, like the P125 across-the-board wage hike that HB 375 seeks to legislate. Any wage hike that is smaller than P125, especially if it is very meager compared with the latter, won't give workers a genuine relief," Soluta said. - with reports from JM Reyes, Radyo Singko, and Pots De Leon