THE Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB)-Northern Mindanao of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) conducted a blended public hearing on minimum wage adjustment for regular and domestic workers on May 11 in Cagayan de Oro City.

DOLE Regional Director Albert Gutib said the public hearing aims to have a glimpse of the socio-economic conditions in Northern Mindanao as input to the board during their deliberation. It is also to hear the petition for a wage increase filed by the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines and concerns from other parties or sectors.

Highlighted during the activity were the minimum wage fixing process, updates on the prices of basic goods and prime commodities, agricultural products, and oil and other petroleum products, wage-related statistics, and the socio-economic situation and outlook in Northern Mindanao.

"The standards/criteria for minimum wage determination include the needs of workers, capacity to pay, comparable wages and income, and requirements of economic and social development," lawyer Gretchen Lamayan of RTWPB-Northern Mindanao said.

Lamayan said the wage category classification covers all minimum wage earners in the private sector in Northern Mindanao. This is regardless of their position, designation, or status of employment and irrespective of the method by which their wages are paid.

According to the data from the old wage order in 2018, the minimum wage rate in the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan and the municipalities of Tagoloan, Villanueva, and Jasaan is P365 (non-agriculture), and P353 (agriculture).

In the cities of Malaybalay, Valencia, Gingoog, El Salvador, and Ozamiz, and municipalities of Opol, Maramag, Quezon, Manolo Fortich, and Lugait, the minimum wage rate is P358 (non-agriculture) and P346 (agriculture).

In the cities of Oroquieta and Tangub, and the municipalities of Laguindingan, Mambajao, and Balingasag, the minimum wage rate is P350 (non-agriculture) and P338 (agriculture).

In all other areas in Northern Mindanao and all Retail and Service Establishments employing not more than 10 workers, the minimum wage rate is P343 (non-agriculture) and P331 (agriculture).

Lawyer Proculo Sarmen, regional vice president of ALU-TUCP, said the TUCP is seeking P413 additional daily minimum wage in Northern Mindanao as they recognize the value of health, safety, and life when the pandemic struck workers with illnesses, deaths, anxiety, fear, depression, and grief.

Sarmen said the adjustment is also in consideration of the impact of price increases since the last wage orders and the March 10 Philippine Central Bank inflation projection for 2022.

The petition wage increase, Sarmen said, is composed of the food requirement based on the Food and Nutrition Research Institute-Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST) Pinggang Pinoy Model at P358.52, increase in prices based on PSA data at P36.79, and the Central Bank projected 2022 inflation (5.1 percent) at P18.62. With these data, they came up with the P413 additional daily minimum wage for the region.

The Oro Chamber of Commerce, for its part, recommended to apply wage orders only to non-unionized establishments and to adopt a productivity-based minimum wage policy. They also cited that rising inflation could be addressed by lifting the excise tax on fuel.

The chamber also recommended the P35 daily wage increase to the current P365 in Northern Mindanao after they noted the businesses that are still recovering from the impact caused by the pandemic.

Present during the public hearing were the regional offices of the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, Philippine Statistics Authority, and National Economic and Development Authority.

Each agency shared the price updates of commodities as well as the economic situation of the region.