THE Central Visayas wage board, tasked to decide on petitions to increase workers’ salaries in the region, is about to determine the amount of adjustment to grant.

That is how it appears to me. No longer a question of whether it would grant an increase, given the clamor for it. The issue is on how much adjustment to give.

One proposal from a labor coalition is for a P155 across-the-board daily wage adjustment, another group wants a lower amount at P120. Other sectors point to how 4.5 percent more to the current minimum salary should be enough to cover the 4.5 percent increase in consumer prices year-on-year in April 2018.

Then, there is the proposal of the House of Representatives’ Makabayan bloc filed Monday that seeks to grant workers in all regions of the country a national minimum wage of P750 a day. This means Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards would be abolished to pave the way for a P750 national minimum wage. The idea is preposterous not only because of the huge increase that it sought but also, since the law requires the pegging of amount per region to consider conditions peculiar to a locality, the law that created these wage boards would have to be repealed.

The Cebu-based regional wage board is expected to decide soon on the petitions after gathering information on economic condition, updated prices of basic agricultural products, inflation rate, and consumer price index. Before the board are petitions for a P155.80 across-the-board daily wage adjustment filed collectively by the Cebu Labor Coalition and five workers’ groups inside companies here, and a P120 adjustment proposed by the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines.

Business groups in Cebu opposed the petitions saying it wasn’t the proper time for a wage adjustment because of the new law on taxes and recent amendments to the country’s labor laws. They also said a pay hike would be counterproductive.

The labor groups had said a wage increase would help workers cope with rising prices of commodities and fuel, and the continued devaluation of workers’ purchasing power.

The last wage adjustment in Cebu took effect in March last year and added P13 to the daily basic pay, placing the minimum wage at P366 per day.

Although it would only be a little over a year since the last pay adjustment, an increase should be granted by the board to help millions of workers burdened by rising prices.

Results of a Pulse Asia poll from March 23 to 28 showed that 50 percent of Filipinos want government to improve the workers’ pay, while 45 percent believed President Rodrigo Duterte’s government must control inflation. A wage hike was listed as a concern by residents of Luzon (56 percent), Visayas (50 percent), Manila (45), and Mindanao (39 percent). It is a nationwide clamor to help workers meet their basic necessities.

These figures answer for the region’s wage board the question of whether it should increase wages. What remains to be determined is how much increase to grant. It should definitely be much more than the 4.5 percent in inflation rate.