THE business community is not opposing a proposed wage increase, but finds it “untimely” while Central Visayas “is still recovering” from the global economic crisis.

Requiring an increase now will be “like adding insult to injury,” said a position paper the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) submitted to the Central Visayas wage board.

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CCCI’s labor relations committee chairperson Edgar Godinez, who consulted the business community on the proposed increase, said a pay hike is just a temporary solution to the problems the labor sector has reported.

“There is a need to create more jobs to be able to alleviate the problem of poverty,” Godinez said.

The Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) held a consultation last week, in connection with the petitions for increase filed by the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) and the Associated Labor Union-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP).

APL asked for an increase of P128.60 a day, while ALU-TUCP asked for P100 across-the-board.

The two unions cited 11 grounds, including “insufficient” wage increases in the past, erosion of the purchasing power of the peso, unstable oil prices, increases in the prices of basic commodities, inflation and increases in fares and power and water bills.

In its position paper, the CCCI said while there are signs of economic recovery, growth in Central Visayas is still challenged by the increasing crude oil and consumer prices, exchange rate fluctuations and “narrowing sources of investment.”

“The El Niño dry spell is likewise causing bumps in the economy’s recovery,” the chamber added.

Department of Labor and Employment Director Elias Cayanong, the wage board’s chairman, said they will do their best to arrive at a decision acceptable to both labor and management.

The regional wage board increased the minimum wage every year between 2004 and 2007, in effect raising the floor wage in Metro Cebu by P50 per day.

In 2008, it approved an increase of P17, which brought the minimum wage in Metro Cebu to P267. No increase was approved in 2009, at the height of an international economic crisis highlighted by recession in the United States and other major economies, where local exporters sell their goods. (EOB)