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NCR wage board to rule on P85 pay hike bid on Aug. 8

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MANILA, Philippines - The Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board for the National Capital Region ((RTWPB-NCR) will decide on August 8 whether to grant a petition for an P85 salary increase for minimum wage earners.

“The board is aware of the urgency of an increase in the salary of minimum wage workers,” said

Director Alan Macaraya, head of the regional wage board for NCR, during the second round of wage consultations with various groups of employers and labor union leaders on Wednesday.

Macaraya said the wage board will consider recent increases in water rates for Metro Manila residents, oil price adjustments, tuition increase of up to 20 percent in Metro Manila private schools, and the impending fare increase in the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT) which may range from P10 to P15.

“There are signals that the employers are open to the salary increase for minimum wage workers (in Metro Manila), but as to the amount, the board will have to deliberate on that,” said Macaraya in an interview with reporters after hearing the concerned parties for more than two hours at the Occupational Safety and Health Center in Quezon City.

He said the wage board will hold a public hearing on August 8 “to determine if there is really a need for an increase in minimum wage in Metro Manila.”

The moderate labor group Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), which filed the P85 wage increase petition, said that even if the current minimum wage of P456 in Metro Manila is adjusted to P541 daily, the amount will still not be enough to meet the poverty threshold set by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) that requires a living expense of P1,200 for a family of six.

TUCP spokesman Alan Tanjusay said that based on government statistics as of February 2013, the purchasing power was only equivalent to P362.77 to buy goods and services in Metro Manila.

Luna Cun Uy Go, director for wages of the Federation of Philippine Industry, said while the group is generally amenable to an increase in minimum wage, the government should look into rampant cases of smuggling that continue to destroy the country’s manufacturing industry.

Macaraya said there are appropriate safeguards for companies that cannot comply with the new wage adjustments for minimum wage earners.

He said under the labor law, companies facing financial distress, force ma jeure (facing natural calamity) and newly established companies, whose mayor's permit have not reached one year (prior to the new wage order), can apply for exemptions to the implementation of the new minimum wage increase.

The salary adjustment will take effect 15 days after the publication of the wage order, said Macaraya.

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