Estrada eyes hearings on ₱150 daily wage hike in May

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 17) — Senate labor committee chairman Jinggoy Estrada aims to begin tackling the proposed ₱150 daily wage hike in May, promising to "strike a balance" between the interests of workers and employers.

Senate President Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri on Tuesday filed a bill seeking a ₱150 increase in the minimum wages of all private sector workers nationwide. The current minimum wage is at ₱570 in Metro Manila and goes as low as ₱316 in some areas in Mindanao.

In a media interview on Friday, Estrada said it's high time for a wage hike but it must be studied carefully, considering that the country's economy is still "struggling to return to pre-pandemic levels."

"More than the issue of wage increase is the matter of job security which most of our workers have yet to attain. So there's a need to balance the needs of the workers with the capacity of the employers to ensure job preservation and job creation," Estrada said.

"Kasi kung magbibigay naman tayo ng sobrang taas naman sa ating mga manggagawa with all due respect, e marami sigurong kumpanya ay magsasara. Ayaw naman natin mangyari yun," he added.

[Translation: Because if we will impose a wage increase that's too high, with all due respect, many companies will probably close. We don't want that to happen.]

"Pagbalik ng Kongreso, sa kailan ba, sa May siguro (When Congress resumes, maybe in May) I will conduct a hearing and again, I will invite all stakeholders concerned," Estrada said.

The senator told CNN Philippines in a text message that he may also call for a hearing during the session break from March 25 to May 7. "Let's see," he said.

In a statement of support for Zubiri's proposal, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines on Thursday lamented supposed delays in the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards' review of minimum wages amid soaring prices.

"'Pag hindi naman gumagalaw lagi yung regional wage board natin e mapipilitan akong mag legislated wage hike," Estrada said.

[Translation: If our regional wage boards do not act promptly, we will be forced to legislate a wage hike.]