THE Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board-Western Visayas (RTWPB-6) in Western Visayas has approved a daily minimum wage increase of P15 to P30 for private sector workers in the region.
RTWPB-6 labor representative Wennie Sancho, along with five other members of the Wage Board headed by Department of Labor and Employment-Western Visayas (Dole-6) Regional Director Cyril Ticao, issued the new Wage Order Tuesday, October 22, after the two-day deliberation in Iloilo City.
“The approved wage hike is not substantial, though it can already caution the impact of the increases in prices of basic goods and services,” he said, adding that it could somehow stabilize the purchasing power of the workers in the region.
Sancho, also the secretary general of General Alliance of Workers Associations (Gawa), confirmed that through Wage Order No. 25, workers among non-agriculture, industrial and commercial establishments employing more than 10 employees will receive a P30 daily pay hike.
From the current P350 plus cost of living allowance (Cola) of P15, totaling to P365 per day, the new rate would be P395.
He said employees from establishments with less than 10 workers will get an additional of P15, making the new wage rate P310 per day.
For the agricultural sector, plantation workers will receive a P20 increase from P295 to P315.
It can be recalled that the New and Independent Workers Organization (Niwo), a rank and file labor union of Coca-Cola Beverages Philippines Inc.-Bacolod, has filed a wage hike petition on July 1 this year.
The petition proposed for the increase of P50 for workers in the plantation and non-plantation industry, and P60 for commercial and industrial sector workers in the region.
It also has a special provision seeking a daily minimum wage increase of P80 for workers in Boracay Island, Aklan.
Under the existing Wage Order 24 which took effect on July 12 last year, minimum wage earners in Western Visayas are receiving an additional pay of P13.50 to P41.50 per day depending on classification.
From the previous P323.50, RTWPB-6 came up with an increase of P26.50 on basic wage plus a Cola of P15 for workers in the non-agriculture, industrial and commercial establishments employing more than 10 employees.
All in all, the previous increase in this classification was P41.50.
Those employing 10 workers and below, the existing wage rate was derived from an increase of P18.50 plus a Cola of P5, or a total of P23.50.
For the agriculture sector, plantation workers received P8.50 increase and Cola of P5. The existing wage rate of P295 is P13.50 higher than the previous rate of P281.50.
Those in the non-plantation sector, they received a basic wage increase of P18.50 and P5 worth of Cola, or a total of P23.50.
Sancho said there will be no separate wage rate for workers in Boracay Island, the region’s top tourist destination.
“Whatever rates we have now will be applied there,” he said.
For the labor leader, having no Cola is an advantage of the new Wage Order as only the basic salary applies to overtime pay, 13th month, and other benefits.
Though they only get 50 percent of the wage increase they have been seeking for, Sancho said the labor sector still “won” as they were able to get at least half of the amount.
Based on their computation, industrial and commercial workers among establishments employing more than 10 employees will receive P45 per day.
The Wage Board has integrated the P15 Cola to the basic salary making it as P365 plus the P30 adjustment, Sancho said.
“The issuance of the wage increase by the RTWPB is a balancing act to reconcile the interest of labor, management and government,” he said.
Sancho added that “it’s very difficult that we want to please labor so much but there are also other important interest at play. So the Board has to continue functioning as balancing mechanism.”
But for the local business sector, they are “very disappointed” with the decision of the Wage Board as it has put the local businesses at the great disadvantage over multi-national companies.
Frank Carbon, chief executive officer of the Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI), said they earlier suggested for a classification of businesses like that of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
Under which, there should be startups, small, medium and large enterprises.
Carbon said large and multinational companies can afford to pay more because they also have the capacity to pay more. Also, they have the capacity to locate themselves in the best area in the city.
“If this is the decision of the Wage Board, it seems that provincial businesses will forever be like sari-sari stores. We can no longer go up as we cannot compete with these big ones,” he added.
The business group is set to sit down as it plans to contest the newly-approved Wage Order.
The small and medium businesses comprise 99 percent of the industry and giving the most number of employment, but Carbon stressed that “they are not supporting us. They are putting us at great disadvantage.”
Meanwhile, the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC) has yet to review the Wage Order which the RTWPB-6 Secretariat will publish the order.
It will take effect 15 days after publication, most probably before Christmas.