Floor wage to rise in Metro Manila starting Oct. 5

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Job seekers look at openings posted on a board at Paranaque City hall. (Reuters file)

MANILA – Private businesses in Metro Manila face higher costs starting next month as a daily minimum wage increase takes effect on Oct. 5, according to a post on the Web site of the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC).

Wage Order No. NCR-21, approved last Sept. 14, raises the daily minimum wage of private sector workers in the National Capital Region (NCR) by P21 — double the P10 raise, via new cost of living allowance (CoLA), approved on May 17, 2016 and which took effect on June 2 that year.

The P21 hike adds to the P10 CoLA retained from last year’s wage order to take the daily minimum wage to P512 for nonagriculture employees and to P475 for agriculture workers, those working in retail or service establishments with up to 15 workers and those in manufacturing establishments with less than 10 employees.

Exempted are “distressed establishments,” retail or service establishments regularly employing up to 10 people and establishments adversely affected by natural or human-caused disasters.

Three labor groups had asked for much-higher across-the-board increases in official applications filed in June: the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines’ P259, the Associated Labor Unions’ P184 and the Association of Minimum Wage Earners and Advocates-Philippine Trade and General Workers Organization’s P175.

Metro Manila usually opens the floodgates for a fresh round of daily minimum wage hike petitions in the country’s 16 other regions.

A check with NWPC showed that Region IV-A, or the Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon region (Calabarzon) — which last year had the second-biggest contribution to national output next to NCR at 16.8% and which together with Metro Manila accounted for more than half of gross domestic product — had, among others, a P60 petition filed by the Federation of Free Workers last Aug. 7.

Another area, Region VII or Central Visayas, has a P145.10 across-the-board hike petition filed by the Cebu Labor Coalition, Lonbisco Employees Organization, Metaphil Workers Union and the Union Bank Employees Association.

John D. Forbes, senior adviser of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, said via text that “we do share concerns… that rapidly rising wages benefits workers in regional competitors as they get the jobs that are not coming to the Philippines.”

“Three Korean manufacturers have left here for Vietnam this year because costs are cheaper there,” Mr. Forbes noted.
“We have 28 non-working holidays this year, which is not more fun for investors.”

The Philippines’ rank in pay and productivity in the World Economic Forum’s “The Global Competitiveness Report” fell to 43rd out of 137 economies this year from 37th out of 138 countries in 2016.