Labor refutes ‘too much’ claim on wage hike

A LABOR leader has refuted the claim of Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI) that the petitioned increase in wage for private sector workers in Western Visayas is “too much.”

Wennie Sancho, secretary general of the General Alliance of Workers Association (Gawa), said bulk of the business operation cost is not intended for employees’ wages.

Rather, it goes to the very high cost of power, water, materials and other supplies, Sancho said.

“Based on the data from the Department of Labor and Employment, only 15 to 25 percent of the overall operation of the companies of any scale goes to wages,” he added.

Earlier, MBCCI chief executive officer Frank Carbon assailed the petition filed by the New and Independent Workers Organization (Niwo) seeking for P50 to P60 daily minimum wage increase.

Carbon said the proposed hike in the minimum wage can only be afforded by multinational and large corporations.

“This is too much for the micro and small businesses as well as to startups that comprise about 90 percent of the industry,” he said, adding that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) could not even afford an increase in cost of living allowance (Cola) at this time.

Under the wage hike petition filed before the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) in Western Visayas, workers in the plantation and non-plantation sector will receive an increase of P50 per day.

While, those in commercial and industrial sector in the region will get a salary hike of P60 per day.

It has a special provision granting a higher daily minimum wage increase of P80 for workers in Boracay Island, Aklan.

Sancho said they respect the position of the business group. However, they are ready to rebut the statement.

Sancho, also the labor representative to the RTWPB in Western Visayas, said they see no problem as the management can still file a petition for exemption once a new Wage Order is already implemented.

The Wage Order will have a provision whether for partial or full exemption if they (businesses) cannot afford, he said.

“But based on experience, there were only about 30 petitions for exemptions filed since the first Wage Order was issued,” Sancho said.

This means, for the labor sector, that the management can afford otherwise the Wage Board was flooded by petitions for exemptions.

Like the labor, the businesses also have two representatives at the RTWPB who can defend their position.

The labor leader, however, hopes that the issue can be settled in a cordial and civil discussion.

Or else, the repercussion will be economic chaos and difficulty because the workers can no longer cope with the rising costs of living amid the purchasing power reduction.

Under the existing Wage Order No. 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.


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