METRO Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (MBCCI) president opined that any move to increase salaries at this time must be carefully studied following a proposed petition for wage increase in Western Visayas.

Roberto Montelibano, MBCCI president, said: “It should not be done emotionally and we need a factual basis and one of the major factors in the decision of the Central Bank is the inflation rate."

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MBCCI has set to hold a meeting this week to discuss the issue, said Montelibano.

On the other hand, the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) also has set a series of hearing on wage increase starting February 4 in Iloilo and on February 14 in Bacolod City.

Montelibano cited that the increase of wages “is not proper at the moment as we are still having a very low inflation rate and any increase has no basis.”

In a meeting with RTWPB, Jupit Millan, who represented the business sector in behalf of the province and Bacolod City, said many of the employers have aired their opposition to any increase to be reflected on the salaries.

If there is any, as being suggested, it should be on non-wage benefits only, he said.

50 wage hike

Prices of basic commodities have increased at the onset of this year and that the working sector petitioned for a P50 wage increase in lieu of the burgeoning crisis that the country faces today.

Worker's representative Wennie Sancho defended that the P50 increase would only have its real value of P31 only based on the current purchasing power of the peso in the region.

As of last December, the peso was worth only 63 centavos in the region and P31 is barely enough to buy a kilo of well-milled rice, said Sancho.

Sancho noted that oil prices have increased three times from end of December to the middle of January alongside adjustments in the prices of rice, sugar and other basic goods.

Rollback in the prices of petroleum products were done, but it was considered insignificant, he said.

The petition seeking a P50 increase in the daily minimum wage in Western Visayas was filed by the Trade Union of Filipino Workers last December 8, 2009 just a few days away from the one-year implementation of the last wage order.

Wage Order 17, which took effect on December 25, 2008, brought the daily minimum wage in the region to between P208 and P250. Non-agriculture workers get P240-P250, while non-plantation and plantation and agriculture workers P208-P218. (Ted Llena)