Hontiveros pushes for contractual workers inclusion in P100 wage hike

By Wilnard Bacelonia

February 21, 2024, 3:29 pm Updated on February 21, 2024, 7:29 pm

<p>Construction workers (PNA photo by Ben Briones)</p>

Construction workers (PNA photo by Ben Briones)

MANILA – Individuals employed under contractual, sub-contractual agreements or manpower agencies would be included in the bill proposing a PHP100 increase in the daily minimum wage for private sector workers, a senator assured Wednesday.

Senate Minority Leader Risa Hontiveros specifically cited construction workers, security guards, utilities, waiters, and other workers in the service sector, who are usually under contractual or sub-contractual agreements.

"Ito ay paraan para maipamalas natin ang equal treatment at fair labor practices para sa lahat ng manggagawa, ano pa man ang kanyang employment status (This is a way to manifest equal treatment and fair labor practices for all our workers, whatever the employment status),” Hontiveros said in a statement Wednesday.

Senators unanimously passed Senate Bill No. 2534, also known as the "PHP100 Daily Minimum Wage Increase Act of 2023," which mandates a PHP100 daily wage hike for all private sector workers, both agricultural and non-agricultural sectors.

“There is an urgent need for reforms to enhance the effectiveness of wage-setting mechanisms and strengthen workers' bargaining power that will help us further uplift the lives of our minimum wage workers," Hontiveros added.

Senator Grace Poe urged employers to provide allowances and benefits to their workers to help them cope with the rising prices of commodities and fuel products.

Poe said the assistance would help the country's wage earners get by as the Senate approved on the third and final reading of the wage hike bill.

"I urge employers with the means to provide supplementary allowances or benefits to extend this assistance to their employees," Poe said. "I am sure the businesses that truly care about their workers would find a way to make necessary adjustments."

Both Hontiveros and Poe cited a January 2024 study by IBON Foundation which revealed that a family of five in Metro Manila needs PHP1,193 per day or PHP25,946 per month to sustain a decent standard of living.

However, as of July 16, 2023, the National Capital Region's daily minimum wage stands at only half of the said amount.

Equitable wage hike

Marikina City Rep. Stella Quimbo, for her part, said the proposed legislated minimum wage increase should be equitable and considerate of diverse economic conditions throughout the country.

Quimbo said implementing a uniform wage increase across all regions, each with its unique cost of living, requires careful study.

"Ang PHP100 wage hike sa NCR [National Capital Region] ay katumbas sa 16-percent increase, pero para sa rehiyon gaya ng Region 9 o Zamboanga, halos 26 percent increase ito. Subalit ang presyo ng bawat produkto ay nagkakaiba sa bawat rehiyon. Halimbawa, ang bangus sa Zamboanga ay PHP160 lang kada kilo habang halos PHP170 per kilo na ito dito sa NCR (The PHP100 wage hike in NCR is equivalent to a 16-percent increase, but in other regions such as Region 9 or Zamboanga, it is equivalent to a 26-percent increase. However, the price of any commodity varies by region. For example, milkfish in Zamboanga costs PHP160 per kilo, whereas it costs PHP170 in NCR)," Quimbo said in a press conference.

She said the implications of an across-the-board salary increase should be studied, particularly its effects in every sector.

Congress should also look into strengthening the role of regional wage boards in deciding and fixing minimum wage rates to ensure they fit local economic conditions of every region, she added.

Quimbo said the House is prepared to tackle pending bills related to minimum wage increases.

She said the House Committee on Labor and Employment will tackle proposals increasing the minimum wage of private sector workers on Tuesday next week.

"As we proceed with these discussions, our goal is to ensure that the legislation fulfills its intended objective --ensuring that the income of minimum wage earners can sustain basic needs of their families," she said. (with a report from Filane Mikee Cervantes/PNA)