WORKERS’ organizations demanded a P360 per day wage increase from the Department of Labor and Employment Central Visayas (Dole 7) on Friday morning, Oct. 29, 2021.

Metudio Belarmino Jr., president of the Cebu Labor Coalition, said there was a need to increase the daily minimum wage in Central Visayas.

Participating in pushing the petition were the Lonbisco Employees Union, Metaphil Workers Union and the Unionbank Employees Union.

They demanded an across-the-board increase for non-agricultural and agricultural workers.

Their petition also includes a request for an increase in the minimum monthly wage for “domestic helpers” from P5,000 to P6,500 or a P1,500 increase.

In their petition, the workers said the last increase in the daily minimum wage of P18 was implemented on Jan. 5, 2020 yet. This raised the daily minimum wage from P386 to P404 but only in areas classified as Class A, which is Metro Cebu.

In the same wage order, the monthly wage of domestic workers was increased from P3,000 to P5,000.

“That coupled with the Covid-19 pandemic in the later part of March 2020, the crucifixion of the workers started to come in. Those previous increases, small as they were, have been overtaken by increases of the basic commodities, goods and services for the past several months more or less almost two years,” the petition said.

Belarmino, who was interviewed by Superbalita Cebu, said nine oil price increases had already been implemented by oil companies this year, which will have an impact on the prices of key commodities.

Belarmino said the rise in oil prices, P20 per liter for gasoline, P18 per liter for diesel and P15 for kerosene, had led to the rise in the prices of basic commodities, making it more difficult for ordinary workers to buy these.

The value of the P404 daily minimum wage is now only P311 because of this.

They believe these developments “present supervening conditions that warrant and justify the issuance of new wage orders.”

Also due to the rise in oil prices, the public expects the transportation sector to demand a fare increase in the coming days.

This would present another burden to ordinary workers.

Even before the oil price hikes, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board had implemented a fare increase from P8 to P10 during the pandemic due to the impact of implementing social distancing, where public transport can accept passengers at only half of the transport capacity.

The lingering economic crisis leaves them no choice but to protect the interests of the workers, the petition added.

Also victims

The business sector, however, said it could not afford a salary increase.

“Unfortunately, the business sector is also a victim of the rising costs of materials and cannot afford to give a salary increase to its employees,” Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Steven Yu told SunStar Cebu.

Yu said economic activity has not improved much since the third quarter of the year and the sector is heavily suffering as well.

Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Felix Taguiam urged the private sector, the labor sector and the Dole 7 to conduct consultations regarding the petition for salary increase.

“This is a very sensitive issue. I can imagine the hardships being faced by employers and employees. We need to look further for a common stance that will be acceptable to all at this time of our post-pandemic recovery,” Taguiam said.

He said with times still uncertain, the Dole and labor sector should have more proper consultations with the business sector to achieve more favorable results. (WITH JOB)