No mention of wage hike in Marcos' first Labor Day speech

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 30) – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has acknowledged the struggle of the labor sector amid high inflation and the transport crisis but there was no mention of a wage increase during his first Labor Day speech on Sunday.

“Tuwiran kong sasabihin na kasalukuyang nagdaraan ang ating bansa sa sari saring mga suliranin at hamon na nagpapabigat sa ating mga kababayan – lalo na sa ating maggagawa,” he said. “Alam natin na tinamaan ng matindi ang ating ekonomiya dahil sa epekto ng pandemya na nandito pa rin, nagbabadya, at hindi pa nawawakasan."

[Translation: I will directly say that our country is currently going through various problems and challenges that burden our countrymen — especially our workers. We know that our economy has been hit hard by the impact of the pandemic that is still here, looming, and not yet over.]

Calling the labor sector a pillar of the economy, Marcos said the government is continuously monitoring and doing everything it can to address labor issues.

Marcos approved an executive order establishing an inter-agency committee to increase coordination and facilitate the resolution of labor cases across the country.

The EO also strengthens and defends the freedom of association and the workers’ right to organize amid concerns of various groups on violent crimes, extra-judicial killings, harassment, suppression of trade union rights, and red-tagging allegedly perpetrated by state agents.

The panel will consist of the Departments of Justice, Interior and Local Government, National Defense, Trade and Industry, National Security Council, and the Philippine National Police.

On Friday, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said the government will release ₱1.8 billion worth of financial assistance to workers on Labor Day as wage hike petitions remain under review.

READ: Gov't to give financial aid to workers on Labor Day amid calls for wage hike

The DOLE said there are currently eight petitions filed across regions calling for an increase in the minimum wage of workers in the country.

Meanwhile, Marcos said more than 50,000 jobs await Filipinos in various job fairs that the government organized nationwide on Labor Day. He added that around 12,000 of these jobs are in Metro Manila.

Speaking in front of workers, the president said the iniative is one of the many efforts of his administration to support Filipino workers. He also said the protection of workers is government's the top priority.

On Saturday, labor groups have reiterated their calls to raise the across-the-board minimum wage to ₱750.

The current minimum wage of workers in National Capital Region (NCR) is at ₱570 and ₱533 for the non-agriculture and agriculture sectors, respectively. A ₱33 daily basic wage increase was granted last May 2022.

But according to think tank IBON Foundation, the estimated family living wage in NCR is ₱1,161 per day. The research group said there is a wage gap of 50.9% or ₱591.

READ: Groups reiterate calls for wage hike as Labor Day approaches