A LABOR group claimed that the new wage increase rates in Western and Central Visayas will bury workers in extreme poverty.
In a statement on June 12, 2018, Alan Tanjusay, spokesperson of labor group Associated Labor Unions (ALU), said the wage adjustments in two of the richest regions in the Visayas “will create more poverty problems caused by migration of workers and their families with the segmentation of wage rates particularly in the Eastern Visayas (Samar-Leyte area).”
Tanjusay issued the statement after the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) in Western Visayas approved a minimum wage hike for private sector workers.
The decision was issued more than two months after a previously filed Wage Order lapsed on March 26 this year.
In a press briefing in Bacolod City Monday afternoon, RTWPB-6 Chairman Johnson Cañete announced that the new minimum wage rates in the region and cost of living allowance (COLA) are P295 and P365 per day, respectively.
Cañete, who also heads the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)-6 regional office, said that under Wage Order No. 24, workers in the non-agriculture, industrial and commercial establishments employing more than 10 employees will receive a minimum wage of P365 per day.
Based on the present minimum wage of P323.50, the RTWPB-6 has come up with an increase of P26.50 on basic wage and COLA of P15 bringing the total wage hike at P41.50.
For companies employing 10 workers and below, the new wage rate is P295 from P271.50. The wage hike is derived from an increase of P18.50 plus a COLA of P5 or a total of P23.50.
For the agriculture sector, the new minimum wage rate for plantation workers is P295, which means a wage hike by P8.50 increase and COLA increase of P5.
The new minimum wage is P13.50 higher than the previous rate of P281.50.
For workers in non-plantations, the new wage rate is also P295 from the previous P271.50 due to a basic wage increase of P18.50 and P5 worth of COLA.
In one hand, the wage board in Region 7 added P20 a day to workers’ daily minimum pay working in Class A cities and towns while P15 for employees working in Class B, C, and D.
Tanjusay said that aside from inadequate wage rates, the segmentation of wage rates into different classifications, in Region 7 for example, will create bigger problems caused by migration overpopulation of workers and their families in areas where salary rates are highest, in the same way Metro Manila is experiencing now.
“This will create bigger problems because cities with highest wage rates will be inundated with population more than its design and capacity,” he said.
Also, with the prices of commodities and services, almost the same between Classes A, B, C and D cities and towns, workers with the lowest rate will be unable to cope with the rising inflation.
“With these wage orders, the wage boards highly favored the employers’ sector and committed a mistake and created more problems than solutions for workers,” Tanjusay said.
Cañete said RTWPB members went through two deliberations before signing the Wage Order to set the fairest increase to both labor and management sectors.
“We will not leave the room unless both sectors agreed to the amount,” Cañete said.
On Jan 22, 2018, the Philippine Agricultural, Commercial, and Industrial Workers Union-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (Paciwu-TUCP) filed a petition seeking for a P130 to P150 increase depending on the worker’s classification.
The labor group called for a daily increase of P150 for non-agriculture, industrial, and commercial establishments employing more than 10 workers.
For those with less than 10 employees, the proposed increase was pegged at P130.
Under the petition, agricultural plantations with an area of more than 24 hectares should provide a P140 daily increase.
Plantations with an area fewer than 24 hectares will get P130 additional pay.
Cañete said, “we cannot listen to all workers and businessmen but their representatives seemed satisfied already during the haggling process.”
He added that the Board always looks into the poverty threshold and average wage in the region in conducting wage review.
Under the approved Wage Order, the rates are now above the poverty threshold of P289 yet lower than the average wage of P400.
“We are still expecting opposing reactions from different sectors but we are prepared for this,” he added.
The new wage order will be forwarded to the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC) in time for a meeting either on June 17 or 18.
“We are within 30 days after the last public hearing on May 30 as provided by the law,” Cañete said.
The NWPC is expected to review the order, particularly on the technical contents but not on the amount as it is already deliberated by the three-sector representatives of the Wage Board.
Cañete said if the commission can tackle the order on the 18th and immediately forward it to the office of Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III for his approval, then they can subject it for publication in July.
Under the guidelines, the Wage Order will take effect 15 days after publication in a newspaper of general circulation.
“Thus, we can expect the effectivity of the order in August. If based on the projected timetable from its submission to the NWPC, the soonest is on the 15th,” he said. (With reports from GMA News Online and PNA)