Bello explains why a pandemic pay hike might be the last thing you want

Published January 28, 2021, 7:47 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

A minimum wage hike during this pandemic may be the worst thing that can happen to workers right now in terms of job security, said Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III

“Kailangan talaga pag-aralan nating mabuti (We need to study that carefully) before we make any drastic move,” Bello said on the clamor for a wage increase during Thursday’s Laging Handa press briefing.

The Labor chief said the most important thing that needs to be determined is whether or not local employers–already pushed to the limit by the pandemic-triggered economic crunch–could still handle the financial strain of a pay hike.

“Ang tingin namin sa mga workers, mas importante iyong kanilang status of employment, mas mahalaga sa kanila na hindi nawawala iyong kanilang status as employees (The way we see it, it’s more important for workers to maintain their status as employees),” noted Bello.

“Now, if we will grant or recommend the approval of the petition na tataasan iyong suweldo (to increase minimum wage) from P537 to P700 or P750, baka hindi makayanan ng mga employers (the employers may not be able to meet it). In fact, Mr. Sergio Luis, the President of ECOP (Employers Confederation of the Philippines) has already come up with a statement na baka hindi makayanan especially noong mga micro, small and medium businessmen (the micro, small and medium businessmen in particular might not be able to handle it),” he explained.

“Baka ang mangyayari niyan, kapag tinaasan iyan (What might happen after a wage hike is) they will be compelled to close shop. Kapag nag-close shop iyan mawawalan ng trabaho iyong ating mga workers (If they close shop then the workers will lose their jobs), which is a worse situation,” he futher said.

“Can the employers afford it? If they can, then by all means we will recommend, we will adopt it, the petition of the workers. But if they cannot, then 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,” Bello added.