THE Cebu Labor Coalition (Celac) filed yesterday a petition asking for an increase of P145 each day, across the board, in Central Visayas.
Celac stated in their petition that wage earners need the increase to cope with increases in prices of basic commodities, tuition and medicines.
Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) 7 Director Exequiel Sarcauga, chairman of the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) 7, said the petition will be taken up in a board meeting and presented during public hearings.
“The board will deliberate after all position papers are submitted both from labor and management,” said businessman Philip Tan, a member of the RTWPB 7 representing management, in a separate interview.
The wage boards of three regions, so far, have approved increases this year, according to the website of the National Wages and Productivity Commission. These are the wage boards of the Cordillera Administrative Region, Region 4B and Region 10.
The last time the Central Visayas wage board increased rates was in November 2014, when it ordered employers in Bohol Province and 10 towns and a city in northern Cebu to adjust the basic wage by P13 a day.
In that same order, it also asked that the cost of living allowance of P13 per day in the rest of the region, which it had granted in February 2014, be incorporate in the basic pay. (Bohol and the 11 other areas were at first excluded because employers were still recovering from the earthquake in October 2013 and super typhoon Yolanda the month after.)
Celac Living Wage Coalition spokesman Metudio Belarmino Jr. furnished Sun.Star Cebu with a copy of their petition yesterday.
Belarmino pointed out that 2015 is the 26th year of the implementation of Republic Act 6727 or the Wage Rationalization Act, which left it to the regional wage boards to set the floor wage, rather than relying on national legislation.
Celac is composed of the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), Cebu Midtown Hotel Employees’ Union (CMHEU), Lonbisco Employees’ Organization (LEO), Mactan Electric Company Employees’ Independent Union (MEIU), NUWHRAIN Montebello Chapter and the Shemberg Employees’ Independent Union and Sentro.
“It is also about time for the wage board of Region 7 to assess and evaluate their failure to provide substantial and significant wage increase for the workers,” read Celac’s petition.
The petition, signed by labor leaders Belarmino, Lino Arcay and Joselito Regis, stated that a study by the labor department’s Institute for Labor Studies showed how decisions during deliberations among RTWPBs are dominated by employers’ representatives.
“This partly explains why in its more than two decades of implementation, the RTWPBs have been issuing meager token wage increases or if not, cost of living allowance (Cola) only,” the petition added.
They cited Article 124 of RA 6727, which states that the regional minimum wages to be established by the regional board should be “as nearly adequate as is economically feasible to maintain the minimum standards of living necessary for the health, efficiency and general well-being of the employees within the framework of the national economic and social development program.”
This year, Cordillera’s wage board approved an increase of P2 to P8 a day, which took effect last June 29. This brought the daily wage rate in Baguio City and four towns, including Benguet, to P285.
In Region 4B, the wage board approved an increase of P10 to P30 per day, effective July 3. This brought the Mimaropa region’s daily minimum wage to a range of P260 to P280. (Mimaropa comprises the two Mindoro Provinces, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan.)
At the current rates of P275 to P340, Central Visayas has the fourth largest daily minimum wage rate among 17 regions. The floor rates are higher only in the National Capital Region (P444 to P481), Region 10 or Northern Mindanao (P291 to P318) and Region 11 (P286 to P317).