THE Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Industries (Coci) is set to study the proposal of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) for a P75 across-the-board wage increase for private workers in Northern Mindanao.

Jerome R. Soldevilla, president of Coci, said the industries recognize the plight of the labor sector in the light of escalating cost of living aggravated by the spikes in the prices of basic commodities.

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However, he said any adjustments in wages must be seriously studied, taking into consideration the rising cost of doing business brought about by the rising cost of energy, raw materials and manufacturing inputs.

“We need to strike a good balance between labor and the sustainability of business. We will study the proposal and make our position known to the appropriate regulatory bodies,” Soldevilla said.

The Coci is an organization of industries operating in Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental. Among its members are Asia Brewery, Catimco Group of Companies, Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines Inc., Del Monte Philippines, Limketkai Manufacturing, Nestlé Philippines, Philippine Agro Industrial Corporation, Pilipinas Kao Inc., Philippine Sinter Corporation, Philippine Iron Construction and Marine Works, RI Chemicals Inc., Mindanao Silicon Metals, Elegant Chemical Alloy and STEAG State Power Inc.

On Thursday, the TUCP filed a petition with the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) in Northern Mindanao calling for a P75 across-the-board wage increase for private workers in the region.

Representative Raymond Democrito Mendoza of the TUCP party-list said the petition is due to the significant rise in the prices of basic commodities in the last two years.

“The last increase given by RTWPB was in 2008, which was a mere P12 given as cost of living allowance (Cola). That increase has been overtaken by the continuing increases in the prices of petroleum products, basic good and services, and transportation fares,” Mendoza said.

Currently, private workers in Northern Mindanao are receiving a minimum daily wage of P256 per day. With the proposed P75 increase, the minimum wage would rise to P331 per day which the TUCP hopes to be implemented May 1 in time for Labor Day.

Since 1990, Mendoza said TUCP has been filing a yearly wage increase but said they refrained from filing a petition for any wage increases in the last two years in consideration with the economic crisis that has affected not only the Philippines but other countries as well.

However, he said the country has started to recover from the financial crisis hence, workers deserve to get a wage increase.

Mendoza justified the petition by citing the rise in the region’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) from P155.70 to P171.40 between June 2008 and January 2010. A CPI is a measure estimating the average price of consumer goods and services purchased by households.

Alex Aguilar, TUCP assistant secretary general, said the wage increase they were demanding is “non-negotiable”.

“It’s almost two years since the last wage adjustment was implemented so there’s no reason for employers to negotiate,” Aguilar said.

He added that the TUCP has already anticipated objection from employers, as what usually happened in the last petitions they filed.

However, he said it’s “outright stupid” to say that workers don’t need the increase in view of the skyrocketing prices of basic commodities.

“We have sacrificed for two years. Now we are asking the employers to help us and share the burden. They should be the one to sacrifice now,” Aguilar said.

In Northern Mindanao, there are at least 26 employees’ unions with 10,000 members.