NegOcc labor groups to seek bigger wage hike

INSTEAD of the initial P73 per day, labor groups in Negros Occidental may seek a daily minimum wage increase of up to P100 for private sector workers in Western Visayas.

Wennie Sancho, labor representative to the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) in Western Visayas, said the P73 is based on the initial computation of real wage of P301.65 plus the P10 worth of accumulated increases in the prices of petroleum products.

“Given a nominal wage or the actual salary rate of P365, the real wage or the purchasing power of the workers is only P301.65," he said.

There is, thus, a need to restore P63.35 per day, he added.

Sancho, also the secretary general of the General Alliance of Workers Associations (Gawa), also noted that there are other factors that will have to be considered like the cost of electricity and water.

Thus, the adjustment that they will seek will probably increase to at least P100, the labor leader said.

The formal petition for wage increase will be filed in June this year, a month before the expiration of Wage Order No. 24 in July.

On July 12 last year, minimum wage earners in Western Visayas started receiving an additional pay of P13.50 to P41.50 per day, a month after Wage Order No. 24 was signed by the members of the Board on June 11.

Under the existing order, new minimum wage rates in the region which include the cost of living allowance (Cola) are P295 and P365 per day.

Unlike the previous order, it provided only two wage rates depending on various classifications or categories.

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

From the previous P323.50, the RTWPB-6 came up with an increase of P26.50 on basic wage plus a Cola of P15. All in all, the increase in this classification was P41.50.

Those employing 10 workers and below, the existing wage rate is P295 from only P271.50. It was derived from an increase of P18.50 plus a Cola of P5, or a total of P23.50.

For agriculture sector, plantation workers received P8.50 increase and Cola of P5, thus, the existing wage rate is P295. This is P13.50 higher than the previous rate of P281.50.

Those in non-plantations, the existing wage rate is also P295 from the previous P271.50 due to a basic wage increase of P18.50 and P5 worth of Cola, or a total of P23.50.

Sancho said after discussing the plan with other labor groups in the province during the Labor Day celebration on May 1, they might come up with a consolidated petition to arrive a possible wage increase.

“This is despite the pronouncement of the President that that there will be no salary increase on Labor Day,” he said, adding that “this will not prevent us from filing a petition in June.”

Under the existing Wage Order, the RTWPB in Western Visayas included some new “features” like provision of the moratorium aside from setting higher rates and inclusion of Cola.

Taking into consideration the temporary closure of Boracay Island in Aklan, resulting in non-operation of establishments there for six months, there was no wage increase and provision of Cola in all three barangays of Malay town.

The new Wage Order took effect three months after the reopening of the island.

Since business operations in the entire Aklan were also affected by the Boracay woes, the wage increase took effect in other areas in the province last November.

For sugar industry enterprises under the agricultural, industrial, and commercial sector, the grant of Cola took effect six months after the issuance of the Wage Order.

The RTWPB may implement “modification” in passing a new Wage Order. So the labor sector expects a simplified, not a complicated, results especially on workers’ classification.

Sancho said knowing the reaction of the government and management they could not usually get even half of the petitioned amount.

In 2018, the labor sector was able to get only about 27 percent of the proposed increase and 13 percent increase in minimum wage.

“Though impossible, we have to start with higher position otherwise we cannot bargain with the management,” Sancho said.


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