BAGUIO CITY -- The Cordillera Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) has approved Wage Order RB-CAR-17, prescribing the new minimum wage rates of private sector workers in the region effective June 29.

The wage order sets a new daily minimum wage rate depending on the geographic location and industry.

Workers in the non-agriculture and retail/service sector with 11 workers and above within Baguio City, La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan and Tuba (BLIST) has an increased daily minimum wage rate of P285 from the previous P280.

The basic salary was increased from P260 to P270, while the Cost of Living Allowance (Cola) was adjusted from P20 to P15.

For those in the above-mentioned sector located in other areas in the region, the basic salary was increased from P243 to P255, while the Cola was adjusted from P20 to P10, making the daily minimum wage increase from P263 to P265.

Meanwhile, workers in the agriculture and retail/service with 10 workers and below in Baguio City and LIST areas has an adjusted daily minimum wage rate from P268 to P270.

The basic salary was increased from P248 to P260, while the Cola was reduced by P10.

In other areas of the region from the same sector, the basic salary was increased from P227 to P245, while the Cola was also reduced by P10, thus setting an increase in the new daily minimum wage rate from P247 to P255.

The wage order was approved by the RTWPB-Cordillera on May 14 and was affirmed by the National Wages and Productivity Commission on June 10.

Effective January 1, 2016, the new daily basic minimum wage levels for minimum wage earners after the integration of the remaining P10 and P15 Cola in the basic wage shall be P285 for all industries and sectors in Baguio City and LIST and P265 for those situated in other areas of the region.

The daily basic minimum wage levels for those in microenterprises within Baguio City and BLIST areas shall be P270, and P255 in other areas of the region.

For private educational institutions, the share of covered employees in the tuition increases for the previous school year (SY) 2014-2015 shall be paid to them starting SY 2015-2016 as compliance to the new wage order.

Academic institutions that did not have a tuition increase may defer compliance to the wage order until the current school year.

Contracts for contract workers such as construction, security, janitorial workers and those that fall under the same similar services shall be deemed amended in compliance to the new wage order.

For workers paid by results, the order states that they are entitled to receive not less than the adjusted amount prescribed under the order for the normal working hours (eight hours per day).

For those employed under apprenticeships or training agreements, they shall be entitled to not less than P75 percent of the new minimum wage rate.

Mobile and branch workers who have to travel as nature of their work shall have minimum wage rates applicable in the domicile or head office of the employer.

"Nothing in this order shall be construed to reduce any existing wage rates, allowances and benefits of any form under existing laws, decrees, executive orders and/or under any contract or agreement between the workers and employers," the order stated.

In its rationale, the RTWPB emphasized that the new wage order is a realization of the Two-Tiered Wage System (TTWS), which protects minimum wage earners against salaries that are lower than the prescribed amount and rather provides opportunity for workers to earn incentives or productivity-based pay as a result of efficient and effective performance and behavior at work.

The Wage Order RB-CAR-17 is a "realization of the need to provide safety measures for the lowly paid workers, who are the minimum wage earners, but to balance it in a manner not prejudicial to the interest of the employers," the rationale states.

Non-compliance to the payments prescribed by the new wage order will be subjected to penal provisions under Republic Act (RA) 6727, known as the Wage Rationalization Act, as amended by the RA 8188. (Sun.Star Baguio)