Labor policies undermine Philippine competitiveness

Philippine businessmen have voiced their concerns on existing labor policies which are undermining efforts to improve the global competitiveness of local business and the country as an investment destination.

The prevailing policy environment is already very restrictive as the low level of foreign direct investment and the dire employment situation of the country suggest, said AMCHAM Committee Chairman for Industrial Relations Ernie Cecilia.

The Philippines has the highest minimum wage in Asia and the fifth largest number of holidays in the world.

Minimum wage in the Philippines is set at $9 a day compared to over $6 for Thailand, while the number of paid holidays in the country is 23 against seven and 15 for Vietnam and Thailand, respectively.

“We are protesting House Bill No. 303 authored by Walden Bello, not because it is pro-labor but because it is anti-development”, said Cecilia.

He also noted that once the proposed measure is in place, the country will no longer have contractual workers but unemployed workers.

Meanwhile, Congress is reconsidering proposed labor laws that may have adverse effects in employment generation.

Even the authors of the bills that seek to advance the interest of workers are no longer keen on calendaring the bills for plenary debates, said Congress Committee on Labor Chairman Emil Ong during a meeting organized by the American Chamber of Commerce.

While the consolidated bill on strengthening the security of tenure has been approved at the Committee level, the Labor Committee opted not to declare it as officially approved owing to the request by lawmakers who failed to attend the Committee hearing, said Ong.

Also, the bill was approved even in the absence of a quorum with only four Congressmen in attendance during the deliberation, Ong added.

These lawmakers are no longer comfortable defending these bills on the floor after having perceived the negative impact of these bills on the very sector that they aim to protect, said Ong.