IBON stresses to solons: An across-the-board minimum wage hike is urgent, just, doable

February 28, 2024

by IBON Foundation

In a House deliberation on wage hike proposals, research group IBON executive director Sonny Africa stressed that there is no reason not to give any of the wage hikes currently proposed by different legislation.

The House of Representatives (HOR) Committee on Labor and Employment held a hearing Wednesday on proposed bills seeking to increase the minimum wage for private sector workers.

In his presentation among several resource persons, Africa stressed that workers are disadvantaged by the current system of wage regionalization and the bias for employers and profits over the wages and welfare of workers and their families. He pointed out how the real value of the minimum wage today in 16 out of the country’s 17 regions is lower than at the start of regionalization 35 years ago in 1989. In the National Capital Region (NCR), the exception, the real wage is a negligible 0.6% higher which will be wiped out by inflation in a few months.

Africa noted the imbalance in how workers demanding hikes carry the burden of proving that a wage increase is necessary and possible, whereas employers who are opposed get away with their mere opinions and scare-mongering. He said that the government abdicates its responsibility to Filipino workers by its bias for employers.

He also said that there is a problem with the government’s economic model that cheapens and exploits labor through low wages just to attract foreign investments and boost corporate profits.

Business profits are substantially boosted by wage repression. Worker productivity has increased by 88% since 1989 yet the average real minimum wage has contracted by 22 percent. Africa also presented data to stress how wage hikes will not be inflationary if employers accept a negligible cut in their profits and do not pass wage hikes onto consumers just to maintain their profits. This is true even for smaller enterprises.