Apart from ‘brain drain’, PH also bound to suffer ‘muscle drain’ if the minimum wage for construction workers isn’t increased

The party-list group ACTS-OFW on March 2 has called for a P900-daily minimum wage for construction workers to help address a looming shortage due to migration.

“We are losing a great deal of good construction laborers to other countries that are paying up to 10 times the P537 daily minimum wage in Metro Manila,” said the group.

It cited the case of New Zealand, where Filipino construction workers are getting on average the equivalent of P5,300 (or NZ$150) as daily wage, without counting benefits.

“This is why the government has to raise substantially the floor wage for construction workers. Our sense is, many of them would prefer to stay here at home with their families, as long as they get higher pay,” the group said.

“Under the law, regional tripartite wages and productivity boards may fix minimum wages per industry or economic sector, and not just along territorial lines.”

ACTS-OFW is not the first to openly call for higher wages for construction workers.

No less than the chief executive officer of DMCI Holdings Inc, one of the country’s largest builders, previously said that he favors a daily minimum wage of between P737 to P837 for construction workers.

Higher wages for construction laborers are needed, according to DMCI president Isidro Consunji.

“They (construction workers) are exposed to the elements (heat and rain). It’s a lot heavier work and a lot riskier (compared to those in other industries such as manufacturing or services),” Consunji said.

Consunji acknowledged that his firm is having difficulty looking for construction workers.

The Duterte administration’s economic growth strategy is partly anchored on a P9-trillion public infrastructure development program that includes 75 big-ticket projects.

Last week, the Department of Transportation broke ground for the construction of the country’s first underground rapid passenger transit system – the 36-kilometer Mega Manila Subway, or Metro Manila Subway Line 9.

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