UNEMPLOYMENT, not low wage, is the real problem facing labor, a top official of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) said.

CCCI labor relations committee chairman Edgar Godinez told Sun.Star Cebu increasing wage is “attacking only the symptom and not the disease.”

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“The main problem is unemployment. We will never solve the problem because we are attacking the symptom and not the disease.

We solve the problem of low wages after we solve unemployment,” he said.

Two petitions for wage adjustment have been filed separately before the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB).

The first petition seeks a P128.60 across-the-board wage increase and was filed by 10 labor organizations headed by Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) last Dec. 22.

The second petition, filed by the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) last March 8, seeks a P100 across-the-board increase.

Godinez said wages will naturally go up when there is enough competition for labor.

He said he is not against increasing salaries but doing so is futile if job creation remains poor.

“Earning minimum wage, no matter how small it may be, is far better than having no salary to collect at all,” he said.

Joblessness in Central Visayas worsened in April this year compared to the same month last year, according to the Labor Force Survey conducted by the National Statistics Office (NSO).

From 7.3 percent in April last year, the region’s unemployment rate rose to 8.6 percent in April this year.

Godinez said the high cost of college education is to blame for the growing unemployment in the country.

“Because of the high cost of college education, many high school graduates cannot afford to go to college. They would prefer to just find jobs in the hope they can help their family or save money for college. But there are few jobs available to them so they end up unemployed,” he said.

He also defended the business sector from the criticisms of labor organizations.

“The owner of the business is in almost the same situation as the laborer. If a company goes bankrupt, even the owner will lose his job. What is good for the owner is always good for the company.

What is good for the laborers may not always be good for the company. But what is good for the company will be good for both the owner and the workers,” he said.

He added that corporations are not necessarily the biggest employers in the country.

“The small, micro-small and medium industries are the biggest employers in the country,” he said.