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‘No minimum wage increase petitions yet’

The Department of Labor and Employment said it has not yet received any formal petition seeking a minimum wage hike.

“Petition for (wage) increase has yet to reach us. We only knew about these petitions on radio and television. If they want to have an increase in their salary, they need to file a petition,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said in a Laging Handa briefing.

Bello added that setting a standard minimum wage for workers in the country is up to Congress.

He, however, said they will thoroughly study wage increase petitions once these have been filed before the agency.

“Assuming that they will file a petition for increase…we have to consider so many things. First, we have to balance the interest of the workers with that of the employers. I think during this time of pandemic, what is important to workers is status of employment, it is important to them that they do not lose their jobs,” he added.

In 2018, progressive lawmakers filed House Bill 7787 seeking a P750 across the board minimum wage for workers nationwide. The bill has since been pending at the lower house.

“Now, if we will grant or recommend the approval of their petition to increase their salary from P537 to P700 to P750, the employers may not afford that,” he added.

Bello added that it is essential for these petitions to undergo a thorough study.

“We need to thoroughly study the petition before we make any drastic move. Can the employers afford it, if they can, by all means, we will recommend it, but if they cannot we have to be very careful, otherwise we will again increase the unemployment rate. And that is the worst situation as far as our employees are concerned. What is important to them is not to lose their jobs,” he said.

Several labor groups are pushing for a wage hike as prices of basic commodities continue to rise in the midst of the pandemic. Wage increase petitions can be filed before the National Wages and Productivity Commission, an attached agency of the DOLE.*PNA

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