Philippines’ trade chief negative to legislated wage hike for Filipino workers

There had been calls for the Philippine government to review current wages because of higher inflation – due to higher oil prices and the implementation of a tax law – during the past months. (AFP)
Updated 20 June 2018
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Philippines’ trade chief negative to legislated wage hike for Filipino workers

  • “The more sustaining solution for wage increases would be more jobs to be created and more investments to come in”
  • President Rodrigo Duterte last month ordered the Department of Labor and Employment to convene regional tripartite wage boards to study the possibility of adjusting minimum wages

DUBAI: An increase in the minimum wage could have wider, negative implications that will would impact even those who will not benefit from the additional pay, the Philippines’ trade and industry secretary said on Wednesday.
“The reality is not all [Filipino workers] are wage earners,” trade chief Ramon Lopez commented during an economic briefing at Malacañan Palace.
“If we increase wages, the costs will increase which can pressure prices to go up. And of course, those who will be hit are not only the wage earners, but everyone else who did not benefit from the wage hike. They will also be affected.”
“The more sustaining solution for wage increases would be more jobs to be created and more investments to come in.”
There had been calls for the government to review current wages because of higher inflation – due to costlier oil prices and the implementation of a tax law that hit sugar and tobacco product prices – during recent months. Prices of consumer goods rose 4.6 percent last month, slightly higher than the 4.5 percent recorded in April but lower than the 4.9 percent government forecast.
Some legislators are planning to file bills aimed at increasing minimum wages across the country when Congress – the country’s legislative body – resumes regular sessions on July 23.
“Inflation (in May) was caused by oil prices and a shortage in rice,” Lopez said, while prices of sugar and tobacco products increased because of the higher tariffs imposed on them under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law which came into force on Jan. 1.
“The shortage of rice however has been addressed with the government-to-government importation we undertook, and shipments are now being unloaded in various ports around the country to address local supply.”
Lopez, however, did not discount the possibility that regional tripartite wage boards – which formulate and review policies on regional wages – could implement additional daily salaries, although such moves must be based on the prevailing economic conditions in the specific regions granting these increases.
“There can be consideration because of inflation, so if you ask me there could be a minimal adjustment but that should not be more than what is necessary because it would really create a strong pressure on inflation,” he said. “Whatever inflation is felt in the region that could be a basis for the adjustment.”
President Rodrigo Duterte last month ordered the Department of Labor and Employment to convene regional tripartite wage boards to study the possibility of adjusting minimum wages to mitigate the effects of rising consumer prices, the peso depreciation and the implementation of the TRAIN Law. Duterte also directed trade officials to tighten the monitoring of prices of basic goods and commodities to guard against profiteering.
“But if we are successful in maintaining industrial peace, maintaining rule of law, peace and order, no corruption, good business environment, investments would come in and that will drive up wages,” Lopez said. “We have to have investments and job-creation activities so that wages and income will go up naturally because of the supply and demand for labor. That is what we should strive for.”


British PM May: 'I will not break up my country for EU Brexit deal'

Updated 21 September 2018
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British PM May: 'I will not break up my country for EU Brexit deal'

  • Theresa May hits back with angry statement after EU leaders rejected May’s Chequers plan
  • Sterling plummets as both sides warn they are planning for a no-deal scenario

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Friday Brexit talks with the European Union had hit an impasse, defiantly challenging the bloc to come up with their own plans a day after the bloc’s leaders savaged her proposals.
At a summit in Austria on Thursday, EU leaders rejected May’s “Chequers” plan, saying she needed to give ground on trade and customs arrangements for the UK border with Ireland.
The British media said the response had left her proposals in tatters, and May angrily struck back in a televised address from her Downing Street office, saying neither side should expect the impossible from the other.
“Throughout this process, I have treated the EU with nothing but respect,” May said. “The UK expects the same. A good relationship at the end of this process depends on it.”
Sterling extended its losses as May spoke, falling to as low as $1.3080, about 1.4 percent on the day, putting it on course for its biggest one-day drop this year, over growing fears Britain could leave the EU without any deal.
May has said the Chequers proposals for trade with the EU, which would resolve arguments over the border of Northern Ireland with the Irish Republic, were the only way forward. EU leaders in Salzburg repeated their view that the plans would undermine their cherished single market.
After the summit, EU leaders said they would push for an agreement next month, but both sides have warned they are planning for a no-deal scenario.
“It’s not acceptable to simply reject the other side’s proposals without a detailed explanation and counter proposals,” May said. “So we now need to hear from the EU what the real issues are, what their alternative is, so that we can discuss them. Until we do, we cannot make progress.”
May, who commands a majority in parliament only with the support of a small pro-Brexit Northern Irish party, said she could not agree to any deal which treated Northern Ireland differently to the rest of the United Kingdom.
The EU insists that there can be no hard border between the British province and the Irish Republic, with Northern Ireland remaining in the bloc’s customs union or effectively establishing a border in the Irish Sea if no alternative deal is reached.
“I will not overturn the result of the referendum nor will I break up my country,” she said. “We need serious engagement on resolving the two main problems in the negotiations and we stand ready.”
However, she said no matter what happened, the rights of three million EU citizens living in the United Kingdom would be protected.
Earlier, her Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab said some EU leaders had shown unstatesmanlike behavior in Salzburg.
“We’ve already compromised hugely with the Chequers proposals,” Raab told BBC TV. “What we’re not going to do is be salami sliced throughout this negotiation in a typical style that the EU engages in without movement on the other side.”
For the British media, the message from Salzburg had been clear. “Your Brexit’s broken,” the Daily Mirror newspaper said.
Newspapers led their front pages with a Reuters picture showing May, dressed in a red jacket, standing apparently aloof and alone from a mass of suited male EU leaders.
May faces a fight with angry Conservative lawmakers at her party’s annual conference from Sept. 30.
Many have voiced opposition to her plans, which they said would bind Britain into much EU regulation in return for free trade, and some would prefer a no-deal “hard Brexit” in March, despite warnings that would ravage the British economy.
“Theresa May’s Brexit negotiating strategy has been a disaster,” opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said. “The Tories have spent more time arguing among themselves than negotiating with the EU.
“The political games from both the EU and our government need to end because no deal is not an option.”
In response to May’s statement, the Confederation of British Industry and other business bodies said they wanted to see constructive dialogue, not rhetoric.
Last week, London Mayor Sadiq Khan added his voice to those including union and business leaders who said there should be a second Brexit referendum. Scotland’s top court ruled on Friday that the European Court of Justice should consider whether Britain could unilaterally change its mind on Brexit.
“The referendum was the largest democratic exercise this country has ever undergone,” said May, who has repeatedly ruled out a second vote following the original 2016 referendum. “To deny its legitimacy or frustrate its result threatens public trust in our democracy.”