As oil prices break records due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Wednesday said he has directed the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards (RTWPBs) across the country to speed-up the review of the minimum wages to help workers and their families cope with the looming oil crisis.

Bello said the skyrocketing prices of oil products caused by the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine may be a compelling ground for the wage boards to recommend adjustments in the minimum wages of workers.

The current daily minimum wage in the National Capital Region (NCR), for instance, of P537 may no longer cope with the price of basic commodities, such as food, electricity and water bills.

Bello, who chairs the Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board, said the RTWPBs, along with the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and representatives from both the labor and employers groups, as a matter of procedure, monitor the wage levels, assess the economic factors and provide recommendations for the adjustment of minimum wages all over the country.

“Setting and adjusting the wage level is one of the most challenging part of minimum wage fixing. Minimum wage cannot be very low as it will have very small effect in protecting workers and their families against poverty. If set too high, it will have an adverse employment effect. There should be a balance between two sets of considerations,” Bello said.

RTWPBs nationwide receive petitions for minimum wage increase in their respective areas.

“Every year, we have what we call an anniversary period where we make an assessment of all petitions received. One petition called for a uniform increase of PhP 750 in the minimum wage nationwide,“ Bello furthered.

The labor chief meanwhile expressed confidence that the RTWPBs will submit their recommendations before the end of April.