A LOCAL business leader said classification of workers should stay and still be the basis of identifying the minimum wage rate in Western Visayas, including Negros Occidental.
Frank Carbon, chief executive officer of Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI), said the basic principle of regionalizing the Wage Board is to match the capacity to pay of the employers to the employees’ needs.
Carbon was reacting to the recent pronouncement of Department of Labor and Employment (Dole)-Western Visayas Director Johnson Cañete to consider the possibility of not “classifying” minimum wage workers in the region.
Through which, minimum wage earners regardless of what kind or category of industry sectors they are working will have a similar salary starting next year.
The business leader said that the capacity to pay of each industry, whether in commercial, agriculture or service sector, varies.
Carbon said that if the capacity to pay of businesses is stronger, then the minimum wage of their workers should also be higher.
“There should be classification to identify and match the capacity to pay and needs of the employers and employees, respectively,” he said, adding that it cannot be uniform, or else, there would be labor-management conflict.
Under the existing Wage Order, which took effect last March 16, workers in Western Visayas received an additional increase of P15 and P25 per day.
The existing daily minimum wage rate in non-agriculture, industrial, and commercial establishments employing more than 10 workers is P323.50.
For those employing less than 10 workers, the existing rate is P271.50.
Workers in the agriculture sector are receiving daily minimum wages of P281.50 and P271.50 for plantation and non-plantation, respectively.
Cañete had said that realizing the plan to remove the classification among minimum wage workers will still depend on the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB).
Representatives from all sectors, including government, management and labor have yet to discuss the matter, he added.
“Non-classification, which was already done in my previous assignment in Caraga Region, allows workers to receive uniform wage given that the kind and prices of commodities they consume are also the same,” he added.
For the labor sector, the General Alliance of Workers Association (Gawa) has backed the possible uniform minimum wage rate.
“This way, wage increase should be across-the-board to prevent salary distortion,” Wennie Sancho, secretary general of Gawa, said.
Sancho expressed apprehension that uniform wage might not be applicable in the sugar industry where majority of the workers are paid on “pakyaw” basis.
“With the prices of sugar on a downtrend, it would be difficult for the planters to comply with the increase in wages so they might file a petition for exemption,” he added.