House bill proposes ₧750 wage increase for workers


Amid “historic surges” in inflation data, the Makabayan bloc on Monday filed the proposed P750 Across-the-Board Nationwide Daily Wage Increase Act.

In filing House Bill 7568, ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro, Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas and Kabataan Rep. Raoul Manuel said in the midst of this worsening economic situation, workers’ wages remain meager, hindering workers from providing a decent living for their families and from attaining their constitutional right to a living wage.

The lawmakers said while the minimum wages in the 17 regions increased by hesitant small steps since the inception of the regional wage boards, the prices of basic goods and services increased by wild leaps and bounds across the country, unobstructed by any government intervention. This, the lawmakers said, resulted in a widening gap between minimum wage and cost of living.

The living wage, as defined by the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC), is “the amount of family income needed to provide for the family’s food and non-food expenditures with sufficient allowance for savings/investments for social security so as to enable the family to live and maintain a decent standard of human existence beyond mere subsistence level, taking into account all of the family’s physiological, social and other needs.”

With this, the lawmakers said the proposed wage increase bill should be certified as urgent by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., adding that legislating a significant wage increase is long overdue, especially under the current dire circumstances.

In the latest report by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), inflation remained high in February 2023 at 8.6 percent. While headline inflation eased slightly, core inflation, which excludes volatile items like food and fuel, rose to 7.8 percent in February from 7.4 percent in January, and 1.9 percent in February last year.

Citing the IBON Foundation, the lawmakers said the P570 minimum wage in Metro Manila, the highest regional minimum wage in the country, is only 49.1 percent of the P1,161 family living wage in the region as of January 2023.

In the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), which has the lowest minimum wage, the P341 basic daily pay is only 17.5 percent of the region’s family living wage of P1,944, they added.

“Using the January 2023 inflation data, the average gap in the current regional wage rates and the regional family living wage stands at P750, with the minimum wage-family living wage gap highest in the BARMM at P1,603, followed by the P880-gap in Region IX,” the authors said in the explanatory note of their bill.

FFW, KMU support wage hike proposal

Labor groups backed the passage of House Bill (HB) 7568, which will grant a P750 across-the-board wage hike for workers in the private sector.

The Federation of Free Workers (FFW) said it supported the legislation filed by the Makabayan bloc in the House on Monday so the existing minimum wage rates will be at par with “family living wage (FLW)” rates.

The Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), for its part, urged Congress to prioritize the passage of the bill instead of the proposed Charter change (Cha-cha).

“Namamatay na sa gutom ang mga manggagawa dahil sa kakarampot na sahod. Pero mas inuna pang atupagin ng mga kongresista ang pagpapasa ng Cha-cha. [Workers are already starving from hunger due their measly wage, but Congress is still preoccupied with Cha-cha],” KMU chairperson Elmer Labog said in a statement.