By Genalyn Kabiling
The regional wage boards are expected to decide soon whether or not to grant the proposed minimum wage of workers amid rising prices of basic goods, Malacañang said Sunday.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque issued the statement to dispel allegations that the convening of the wage boards was a mere cheap trick by the Duterte administration.
“Can’t be. It’s pursuant to law,” Roque said, rejecting the claims the President’s order to convene the wage boards was just publicity. “In any case, the wage boards should decide soon,” he added.
The militant labor group Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) earlier criticized the President’s order to convene regional wage orders was a ruse to combat the backlash triggered by the soaring inflation rate driven by the tax reform law.
The group claimed that regional wage-fixing system was not the solution to the national problem on the soaring prices of basic goods. Instead, it proposed a P750 national minimum wage in the private sector to cope with rising inflation.
Roque, however, maintained that it was “legally impossible” for the government to impose a national minimum wage since the wage boards are created by law.
“That’s legally impossible. Congress has to enact a law for national minimum wage,” he said.
The President earlier directed the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to convene the wage boards and study possible minimum wage increase amid increasing prices of goods.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello said the wage boards have been closely monitoring prices in their regions and observed such fluctuations since early this year.
Apart from possible wage hike, Bello claimed that government was considering the possibility of giving cash subsidies to minimum wage earners.