THE wage board is now in the advance stages of consultation and hopefully will come up with a decision corresponding to the needs of the labor sector and employers.

National Economic Development Authority (Neda) Davao Region Regional Director Maria Lourdes D. Lim said the Wage Board is still sitting down to weigh P75 wage increase petition.

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She said the consultation process will further culminate a public hearing Wednesday from 1 to 5 p.m. on the review of Wage Order No. RB XI-15 at the Sequoia Inn, Monteverde Avenue, Davao City.

The public hearing will include a discussion of the petition filed by the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines on March 2, 2010 when the Board was in the course of reviewing the minimum wage in the Region.

A series of consultations were previously held by the Regional Board with the various labor and management groups, industry associations and other stakeholders with the participation of concerned government agencies, which provided inputs on the socio-economic conditions in Region 11 as part of its activities in the review of the minimum wage.

The Regional Board likewise conducted a series of interviews with randomly selected minimum wage earners belonging to the different sector/industry wage classification in the Region for a realistic assessment of the minimum wage.

The Regional Board is urging all stakeholders to attend the public hearing and present their comments/stand on the TUCP wage petition. Written positions can also be submitted to the Regional Tripartite Wage Productivity Board (RTWPB) 11 on or before the scheduled public hearing.

The inputs gathered from this hearing will help the Board to clearly understand the position of the labor and management sectors on the possibility of a wage adjustment in the Region.

Whatever result will be, the board chairman Jalilo O. Dela Torre, who is also the Department Of Labor and Employment will make it public.

"This hearing will ensure that the labor sector would be given a proper minimum wage that would meet the living conditions in the region," Lim said.

During the consultation process, Lim said they have invited resource persons from Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) to talk about weather disturbances that affect the agricultural-based industries, and speakers from the Department of Energy for issues regarding the continuing energy crisis that affect businesses.

"The existing wage was promulgated by the board and will take a year before it can be reviewed or amended", she said. "But there are some conditions that cannot be overlooked like increase in rice or fuel and especially conditions in the national, local and international that will affect the business and workers."

The wage board is mandatory to review the wages in accordance this condition and come up with a solution to address the needs of the employees and the employers that is both agreeable to both sides following a petition for the amendment.

"The board conducted several consultations that started in Tagum, Digos, Mati and Davao City last May 6," Lim said.

During the early stages of the hearing "representatives of the labor groups were encouraged to articulate recommendations for the wage board to constitute their conditions," Lim said.

Recently, she said, the board conducted household interviews and visited at least two houses in Davao City to really look into actual living conditions of minimum wage earners.

"We saw the actual conditions of both families, ways on budgeting day to day necessities like breakfast, lunch and dinner, and others," Lim said.

"This was based on the average family size of five, composed of mother, father and three children," Lim said.

"Today the board will further go out into the field to look into the conditions of minimum wage earners employed in agricultural sectors," she added.

The survey will continue until the public hearing tomorrow. This will be a formal venue to hear the sitting parties in accordance to the P75 wage hike petition in the existing P265 non-agricultural wage earners, P255 for agricultural wage earners.

"Some exemptions will be stipulate in wage orders for the increase like distressed industries, but they should show records that they are," Lim said. The definite period for the exemption is only good for a year. (RBB)