No wage hike in 17 Central Visayas firms

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013


CEBU CITY -- Seventeen companies in Central Visayas region are exempted from the P22 daily wage increase that took effect last Dec. 7, 2012.

The Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) approved their applications for exemption, but denied those of 16 other companies.

However, Atty. Ernesto Carreon of the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP), who represents labor in the RTWPB, said the exemption is good only for one year or until December 7, 2013.

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Those whose applications for exemption were denied must adjust their employees’ pay retroactive to December 7 last year, Carreon said.

Carreon, a former judge of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), said he finds it ironic that Labor Day will be celebrated with the news that some companies are allowed not to increase their workers’ wages.

“We cannot even call it a wage increase because we asked for P90 but the RTWPB approved only P22, which is not enough to give the workers a decent living,” Carreon said.

Labor Day will be officially celebrated today, May 1, with a caravan from Mandaue to Lapu-Lapu City that was scheduled to start at 6 a.m. A program was scheduled to follow in the Hoops Dome, Lapu-Lapu.

The celebration, organized by the Department of Labor and Employment 7, will be attended by representatives of the Tripartite Industrial Peace Council from Cebu City, Mandaue City, Lapu-Lapu City and Talisay City.

Applications

A job fair will also be held.

Two of the 17 firms granted the wage order exemption are furniture exporter Mehitabel Corp., which has 348 employees, and Shemberg Corp., which processes seaweeds.

Carreon said he and Jose Tomungha of the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), who also serves in the wage board, opposed Mehitabel’s application for exemption, because it is a big company whose annual sales they estimated at not less than P200 million.

However, Carreon said he and Tomungha were outvoted.

The wage board also includes two representatives from management and two government agencies, the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Carreon also said they did not oppose Shemberg’s application for exemption, because it is currently under rehabilitation.

Because the exemption is good for only one year, both Mehitabel and Shermberg are obligated to implement the P22 increase or the P327 minimum wage (for Metro Cebu workers) by Dec. 7, 2013.

Power, pay

Leaders from various labor organizations on Tuesday said they will commemorate the 110th International Labor Day by urging the government to bring down the cost of electricity and increase wages nationwide.

“We also have to tackle the illegal contractualization that threatens the security of tenure of the workers as guaranteed by the Constitution,” Tomungha said.

Dennis Derige of the Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) cited complaints filed by some workers against employers that have remained unsolved before the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) and the NLRC.

Tony Cuizon of the Panaghiusa sa Mamumuo sa Carmen Copper (PMCC) alleged that their union has been harassed by the management, and that the police and labor authorities have done nothing to protect them.

Art Barrit of ALU-TUCP said different labor groups under the Nagkaisa Federation will march from the chapel at the Mariners’ Court near Pier 1 to Fuente Osmeña, where a rally will be held.

Barrit said that the issues to be raised are high power rates, low wages, and high prices of commodities. (EOB/With Imee Marie M. Tadiamon, CNU Communication Intern/Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 01, 2013.

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