Arroyo’s last offering for labor: P22 wage hike

First published in the Philippine Online Chronicles

After two years without any wage increase, the regional wage board in theNational Capital Region has granted a P22 increase in basic pay, raising the daily minimum wage of Metro Manila workers from P382 to P404. Coming from a long economic dry spell, the measly P22 hike may not be enough to quench parched pockets though.

The P22 increase was confirmed by National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC) executive director Ciriaco A. Lagunzad III andNational Economic and Development Authority(NEDA) policy and planning director Dennis M. Arroyo, BusinessWorld reported.

Despite breaking the news, Dennis Arroyo said it is still unsure when the wage increase will be implemented, since concerned agencies should come up with the implementing rules and regulations.

The last time minimum wages were raised was two years ago, when the National Capital Region (NCR) wage board increased the basic pay by P15 in June 2008 plus a P5 increase in the cost of living allowance that was later integrated.

The Arroyo administration did not entertain any wage hike proposal within the two-year span, citing the impact of the global crisis on the local economy. This despite the fact that prices of basic goods and services, including petroleum products and electricity, soared several times.

The wage hike announcement came out just a few days before President Gloria Arroyo steps down – a timing suspected by critics to be part of a last-ditch PR stunt.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said on Tuesday the recent hike would not fan inflation, and that there would be enough space to keep policy stance in supporting the economic recovery, GMANews.tv reported. Last week, the BSP factored in a P25 wage increase in its inflation forecast for this year and next year.

Apparently, BSP’s calculation was a go-signal for this week’s measly P22 wage increase.

Workers led by KMU call for the abolition of the regional wage boards in a picket last June 10 (Photo courtesy of KMU)

‘Insult to workers’

Labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno, which has been campaigning for a P125-legislated nationwide wage increase, said the P22 wage increase is an “insult to minimum wage workers who have long fought for a substantial wage increase,” an ABS-CBNNews.com report said.

“For us workers, this is a big insult. It’s not even enough to buy a kilo of rice. One kilo of rice is worth P28 to P32, the type of rice that people can eat,” KMU executive vice president Joselito “Lito” Ustarez said in a radio interview.

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