MINIMUM wage earners in Western Visayas, including those in Negros Occidental, are entitled to a P25 raise on their salaries effective March 16, 2017.
The Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) approved the pay hike on Feb. 16, 2017, according to Salome Siaton, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE-6) OIC regional director and RTWPB chairperson.
The increase is contained in Wage Order (WO) No. RBVI-23 which sets the new daily minimum wage rates according to sector/industry.
Laborers in non-agriculture/industrial/commercial firms with more than 10 workers will get a P25 raise, raising their new minimum wage rate to P323.50. Firms with less than 10 employees must increase wages by P15, setting the new daily wage at P271.50.
Those working in the agriculture sector will get a P15 raise. Thus, plantation workers’ new minimum daily wage is P281.50, while non-plantation workers will get P271.50 daily.
“The Wage Order covers all minimum wage earners in the private sector in WV and Negros Occidental, regardless of position, designation or status of employment and irrespective of method by which they are paid,” Siaton said.
The wage board arrived at the increase based on the comments and reactions from stakeholders such as the Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Confederation of Sugar Producers’ Association-Negros Panay Chapter, Bacolod Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Iloilo and Capiz business sectors.
The board also considered the poverty threshold, average wage and consumer price index and inflation rate.
The wage increase does not cover “household or domestic workers, persons in the personal service (drivers, gardeners) of another and workers of duly registered Barangay Micro Business Enterprise.”
Siaton said wages of household or domestic workers are covered by Republic Act 10361 or Batas Kasambahay.
Exempted from the new wage order are distressed establishments, new businesses and establishments adversely affected by calamities, natural or human-induced disasters.
Siaton said the board shall approve or disapprove the application for exemption depending on the proofs of financial incapacity the companies will present.
Any employer who refuses to comply with the WO shall be subject to penalties specified under labor laws.
Penalties include fine of not less than P20,000 but not more than P100,000 or imprisonment of not less than two years but not more than four years, or both.
The wage hike was triggered by the petition of the Philippine Agricultural Commercial and Industrial Workers’ Union (PACIWU) which sought higher salary increases – P101.34 for commercial establishments employing more than 10 workers, P90.61 for plantations with more than 24 hectares of land; and P86.87 for non-plantation and plantation with 24 hectares of land and below in August 2016.
But since the new WO will take effect on Mar. 16 yet, the RTWPB can entertain petition for wage increase a year after “unless there is a supervening event.”
The last wage increase in the region was on May 2, 2015.
Meanwhile, 24-year-old “Billy”, who requested anonymity for fear of repercussion from his employer, welcomed the P25 wage increase.
The young man from Concepcion, Iloilo has been working in a manpower agency for a year now and he earns between P2,600 to P3,300 every 15 days.
Billy said his take home pay is reduced by numerous deductions, including uniforms, charged by the company.
His wife, on the other hand, earns P200 from working in a downtown shop in Iloilo City.
Billy said their combined income is “enough” to meet their daily needs, including food and rent.
The rest he sends to his mother-in-law in Dumangas for the needs of his three-year-old daughter such as milk and diapers.
Billy dreams of sending his child to school, especially to college, to ensure a better future for her.
“I am happy if it (wage hike) is true. I thought it is just P10 but I am glad if indeed it is P25,” he said.
But Billy is not convinced that his salary is enough to build a house for his family.