NWPC junks bizmen appeal to lower wage hike

THE National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC) dismissed the petition filed by businessmen in Western Visayas asking for lower minimum wage increase in the region, including Negros Occidental.

The dismissal was confirmed on Thursday, May 11, by lawyer Ailyn Balaquio, legal counsel of Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) in Western Visayas, to labor representative Wennie Sancho.

On March 13, nine business organizations under the Iloilo Business Club filed an appeal before the RTWPB-Western Visayas during the board’s emergency meeting in Iloilo City.

The business groups urged them to seriously consider adopting a P12 increase instead of P15 to P25 provided under the new wage order that took effect starting March 16.

Sancho, secretary-general of General Alliance of Workers Association (Gawa), said now that the petition has been junked, there will be no legal impediment in the implementation of the wage order.

“We hope the management sector will respect the decision of NWPC and that they should cooperate in the implementation of the minimum wage increase,” Sancho said, adding that “this welcome development is hoped to boost industrial peace which will push workers to become more productive.”

Wage Order 23 approved by the RTWPB-Western Visayas last December 15 and affirmed by NWPC on February 17 replaces the previous wage order that provided a lower increase of P11.50.

Under the new order, the new daily minimum wage rate in non-agriculture, industrial and commercial establishments employing more than 10 workers is P323.50, with an increase of P25 from the existing rate of P298.50.

From only P256.50, the new rate for those employing less than 10 workers is P271.50, with an increase of P15.

Workers in the agriculture sector, meanwhile, now receive a daily minimum wage of P281.50 and P271.50 for plantation and non-plantation, respectively. Both have an increase of P15, from the previous rates of P266.50 and P256.50.

In its appeal, the business sector pointed out that Western Visayas, despite having no big industries, is one of the regions with the highest wage and most number of increases.

Other reasons included higher inflation rate, the increase’s serious implications on skills and productivity, and the possibility of having stunted growth and investments.

Sancho said the RTWPB-Western Visayas will further discuss the dismissal of the petition during its regular meeting in Iloilo City on Friday, May 12.

During the meeting, Sancho said they will also ask the Board to deputize him and his counterpart Hernani Braza of the National Congress of Unions in the Sugar Industry of the Philippines (Nacusip) as labor inspectors.

“If they are deputizing trade union presidents, how much more us labor representatives,” Sancho said, adding that as labor inspectors they will work on ensuring that the new minimum wage is being implemented in the province, especially in critical areas like Bacolod City.
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