Press Release
May 1, 2007

Recto calls for more labor inspections to flush out wage violators

Whats the use of a wage hike order if one in five firms in the country violate it?

This was raised anew by Sen. Ralph Recto as he reiterated his call for more factory visits by Labor inspectors so minimum wage law violations can be corrected on the spot.

As a result of labor inspections, two-thirds of wage law infractions discovered were remedied immediately, Recto said, citing a 2004 official data which underscores the effectiveness of such an approach.

Recto said of the 19,539 firms visited by Department of Labor and Employment inspectors in 2005, 15,879, or 81 percent, were found to be complying with wage laws.

A few have interpreted this data to mean that 20 percent of the countrys 16 million salaried workers do not receive their legally-mandated wages. Or simply out, 3.2 million workers who are supposed to get minimum pay dont, he said.

Recto said mandatory minimum wages must be advocated on the ground and campaigned on the field.

Whats the use of minimum wage law if, like traffic laws, it is violated with impunity? Recto said in stressing the equal importance of setting the minimum wage and seeing to it that it is being followed.

Actual evasion rate could be higher, Recto believes, if Labor officials were able to inspect small firms belonging to the so-called underground economy.

Recto said employers cannot arbitrarily deny their workers their rightful pay even if they may qualify for exemptions under various laws. He explained that companies that find it difficult to maintain their operations - and pay the minimum wage - can apply for exemption from government-issued wage orders.

That is the correct procedure as an employer is entitled to relief but it is not right for him to function as one-man government wage board, he pointed out.

Government, he said, should make it easier for owners of distressed companies to get exemptions through less red tape.

Minimum wages vary by region, with the highest currently at P350 a day for a non-agriculture worker in the National Capital Region.

Even if there is 100 percent compliance with wage orders, it still wont mean that everyone is getting his or her just wage, he said.

Half of the countrys employed are deemed wage and salary workers, he said. The other half are own-account and unpaid family workers who are not covered by the minimum wage law.

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