Labor secretary Silvestre Bello on Wednesday directed the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards (RTWPBs) all over the country to expedite their review of minimum wages to help workers cope with the current economic crisis.

“Setting and adjusting the wage level is one of the most challenging parts of minimum wage fixing. Minimum wage cannot be very low as it will have very small effect in protecting workers and their families against poverty. If set too high, it will have an adverse employment effect. There should be a balance between these two sets of considerations,” Bello said in his statement.

In an interview with Palawan News on Thursday, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Palawan Field Office provincial director Luis Evangelista expressed confidence that the current P320 minimum wage in the province will be increased.

“Ang sinabi lang sa akin ay may possibility talaga na magkaroon ng wage increase dito sa MIMAROPA, hindi lang natin madetermine magkano pero nandoon ang possibity. Sabihin na natin na 90 percent possible [na magkaroon ng increase],” he said.

Aside from DOLE, the board is composed of different agencies, including the Department of Trade in Industry (DTI), the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), a workers’ representative and an employers’ representative, who will weigh the possible increase in the minimum wage.

The RTWPBs are set to convene this month.
Oil price increases, product price increases, and the inflation rate are all factors in wage hikes, he said.

“‘Yan ang pagbabasehan ng mga agencies na ‘yan para kung magkano kung sakali ang increase base sa mga computations na gagawin,” Evangelista said.

He said that when there is a petition from groups that are worried about wage increases, the board usually meets to talk about them.

Evangelista said that while they understand the effect of the crisis, there should be a proper process for the increase of the minimum wage.

“Ngayon dahil sa presyo nga ng gasolina ay pupwedeng maginitiate na ang DOLE. Nauunawaan natin ang epekto sa kanila lalo na sa mga manggagawa kaya lang mayroong sinusunod sa mga considerations na sinusunod ng wage board,” he said.