DOLE warns against wage hike impact on MSMEs

Amidst recent calls from labor groups for an increase in minimum wage, Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello cited the need to balance the interest of workers with that of employers, especially those from micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), considered to be the hardest hit by the pandemic.

Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), which earlier filed a petition for an increase in the minimum wage in the National Capital region from P537 to 750, said it will refile its petition, which was set aside last June at the height of the pandemic by the NCR Wage Board.  “A wage hike has become more urgent because of rising food prices,” the group said.

In a televised press briefing held recently, Secretary Bello said that the primary concern for workers should be their status of employment rather than compensation rates as MSMEs, which comprise 99 per cent of all registered businesses,  are barely surviving due to the ongoing crisis.

Dean Emmanuel Lopez of the Colegio San Juan de Letran Graduate School echoed Secretary Bello’s thinking that the  business community could ill afford to pay higher wages.  “Let the economy normalize before going back to the bargaining table,” he said in an online interview with the Business World.

Instead of  increasing wage rates, Lopez said the government should focus on properly utilizing the $4.5 -trillion national budget this year to help all affected sectors of the economy in their struggle to bounce back.