Statement of the Commission on Human Rights welcoming the proposed P100 minimum wage increase for private sector workers nationwide

Statement of the Commission on Human Rights welcoming the proposed P100 minimum wage increase for private sector workers nationwide

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) lauds and deeply welcomes the proposed P100 minimum wage hike for private-sector employees and workers across the country. We commend the efforts of the Legislative, particularly the Senate, the labor sector, and other sectoral groups, in amplifying the call for a just and equitable minimum wage for Filipino workers.

Senate Bill (SB) No. 2534 seeks a PHP100 increase in the daily minimum wage of workers in the private sector nationwide. The bill was unanimously approved by the Senate on its third reading during the plenary session last 19 February 2024. According to Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, if this bill turns into law, it could be the first time since 1989 that a legislated pay hike would be implemented nationwide.

The Philippines has a widely recognized dynamic labor force. Across industries, we see Filipino workers performing tirelessly to fulfill their duties and obligations in order to provide quality services. However, the fight for livable wages in the country has also been a long history of struggle and resistance. From unequal socioeconomic opportunities resulting from the country’s geographical divides to the extreme polarization caused by the economic implications of the minimum wage on the labor force. The country’s ongoing inflationary trend forces the labor sector to deal with unintended consequences. Many Filipino workers are affected by its repercussions, which range from the high prices of essential goods to the low purchasing power of the majority of workers, hence, higher cost of living for the majority of Filipino laborers.

Furthermore, some Filipinos are compelled to work abroad in order to maintain the lifestyle they envisioned for themselves and their families. Some chose to stay, but the harsh reality of unequal opportunities and low pay makes their stay challenging on a daily basis.

The Commission upholds its mandate that every Filipino has an equal right to a good life. We believe that proactive policies that champion the rights of our Filipino workers are essential in providing them with not only economic opportunities, but also a sense of dignity and honor as Filipino workers.

Article XIII of the 1987 Constitution emphasises the role of the state in providing full protection to labor, promoting equal employment opportunities for all, protecting peoples’ rights, and promoting their welfare and well-being as part of nation-building.

While we recognise the vital significance of minimum wage increases, it is also crucial to strike a balance between considering the economic implications and providing equitable minimum wage salaries, particularly in the context of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). Pushing for a sustainable, inclusive, and equitable, minimum wage is critical to promoting a humane quality of life, both for employees and employers, and we believe that this is one of the most transformative policies that the government could implement for its people.

While it may seem minimal, the proposed P100 increase in the daily minimum wage is a step in the right direction for the improvement of the Filipino labor force. We value this positive change and recognise its importance in achieving a better and more empowered workforce in the country.

With this minimum wage increase, the Commission is hopeful to see a Filipino labor force that is much more capable of providing for themselves and their families, leading to the quality of life that every Filipino deserves. This is only the beginning. This will be a step toward becoming a developed nation with capable people and an empowered labor force through fair, just, and inclusive opportunities for its people.

Mabuhay ang mga manggagawang Pilipino! ###