Thursday, June 20, 2019

Wage Order review urged amid surging inflation

A LABOR leader has urged the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) in Western Visayas to review the existing Wage Order in the region amid the surging inflation.

Wennie Sancho, labor representative to the RTWPB Region 6, said he made such manifestation before fellow members of the Board during their meeting in Iloilo City on Thursday.

Sancho said there is an urgent need to review Wage Order No. 24 which took effect in July this year, mainly because of economic indicators like inflation and consumer price index (CPI) and its effects on the purchasing power of workers in the region.

“The labor sector believes that the unabated increase s in the prices of petroleum products now constitute a supervening condition that would justify the issuance of a new Wage Order even before the one year effectivity period,” he added.

The existing Wage Order has set the new minimum wage rates, including the cost of living allowance (Cola) at P295 and P365 per day.

Workers in the non-agriculture, industrial and commercial establishments employing more than 10 employees are now expected to receive a minimum wage of P365 per day.

From the previous P323.50, RTWPB-Western Visayas has come up with an increase of P26.50 on basic wage plus a Cola of P15.

All in all, the increase in this classification is P41.50.

Those employing 10 workers and below, the new wage rate is P295 from only P271.50. It is derived from an increase of P18.50 plus a Cola of five pesos, or a total of P23.50.

For the agriculture sector, plantation workers may now receive P8.50 increase and Cola of five pesos, making the new wage rate at P295, P13.50 higher than the previous rate of P281.50.

Those in non-plantations, the new wage rate is also P295 from the previous P271.50 due to a basic wage increase of P18.50 and five pesos worth of Cola, or a total of P23.50.

In terms of inflation, or the sustained increase in the general price level of goods and services in an economy over a period of time, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported an inflation rate of 6.7 percent for September.

The figure is higher than 6.4 percent in August.

The PSA said the uptrend was primarily brought about by the heavily-weighted food and non-alcoholic beverages index which further accelerated to 9.7 percent in September this year.

Relative to the annual rates in the previous month, annual increases were also higher in the indices of the commodity groups like alcoholic beverages and tobacco, 21.8 percent; clothing and footwear, 2.5 percent; furnishing, household equipment and routine maintenance of the house, 3.6 percent; health, 4.1 percent; transport, 8.0 percent; communication, 0.5 percent; and recreation and culture, 3.0 percent.

All regions outside the National Capital Region (NCR), including Western Visayas, registered higher annual inflation in September 2018 compared with their previous month’s annual changes, it added.

For Negros Occidental alone, data obtained earlier by SunStar Bacolod from PSA-Negros Occidental showed that the purchasing power of the peso in the province has declined to P0.82 as the province's inflation rate peaked at 8.7 percent for the month of August this year.

This means that using 2012 as the base year, Negrenses' P100 could only buy P82 worth of goods last month.

Sancho earlier said organized labor groups in the region will be compelled to file a petition for another round of wage hike if the economic woes become nonstop.

Aside from the continuous increase in the prices of basic goods and services, particularly petroleum products, Sancho said that wrong handling of economic policy on rice and fish adds to the worsening economic situation.

“Concerns on Wage Order review and the impact of inflation and CPI on the erosion of the workers' purchasing power will be thoroughly discussed during the next meeting of the Board on October 25,” he added.


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