MBCCI exec: Small biz can’t afford P50-P60 wage hike

BACOLOD. Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive officer Frank Carbon. (Erwin P. Nicavera)

A BUSINESS leader in Negros Occidental has assailed the petition filed by a labor group seeking for a daily minimum wage increase of P50 to P60 for private sector workers in Western Visayas.

Frank Carbon, chief executive officer of the Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI), said Tuesday, July 2, the proposed hike in the minimum wage can only be afforded by multinational and large corporations.

Carbon said the amount is “too much” for the micro and small businesses as well as to the startups that comprise about 90 percent of the industry.

“The small and medium enterprises (SMEs) could not even afford an increase in cost of living allowance (Cola) at this point,” he said, adding the increase in wealth is only among the 10 percent of the businesses that are multinational and large corporations.

On Monday, July 1, the New and Independent Workers Organization (Niwo) filed the petition before the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) in Western Visayas during its meeting in Iloilo City.

Niwo, a rank-and-file labor union of Coca-Cola Beverages Philippines Inc.-Bacolod headed by its president Emmanuel Bandola, submitted the petition through labor representative to the RTWPB–Western Visayas Hernane Braza.

Braza’s counterpart Wennie Sancho, also the secretary general of General Alliance of Workers Association (Gawa), confirmed to SunStar Bacolod that the petition seeks for P50 increase for workers in the plantation and non-plantation and P60 for commercial and industrial sector workers.

Sancho said the petition also has a special provision seeking a daily minimum wage increase of P80 for workers in Boracay Island in Aklan, mainly due to higher standard cost of living there.

"The lower purchasing power of the workers simply means that the prices of basic goods and services have increased," he said, adding that "the lower the purchasing power, the higher should be the wage increase in order to cope with the lost value of the peso."

The business group, however, pointed out that the increase in wealth of large companies has no trickledown effect yet.

Carbon said most of these multinational corporations are in urban areas, thus they are advocating for the development of rural and agricultural areas including fishing communities.

Carbon said developments of the local government units (LGUs) and national government agencies (NGAs) should be biased toward the rural areas.

“We are calling a meeting to discuss the wage hike petition,” he said, stressing that SMEs employ at least 60 percent of the total labor force so they must also be given due consideration.

Under the existing Wage Order 24, which will expire on July 16 this year, minimum wage earners in Western Visayas are receiving an additional pay of P13.50 to P41.50 per day.

Minimum wage rates in the region, which included 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-Western Visayas 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.

Also, 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.


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