A CONGRESSMAN yesterday criticized the Central Visayas wage board for its apparent reluctance to grant the wage increase at least two workers’ groups are asking for.

The Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) has not yet issued a wage order, but reportedly decided, in a deliberation this week, to dismiss two petitions.

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The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) filed one petition, asking for an across-the-board increase of P100 in the minimum wage. This currently stands at P267 a day in Metro Cebu.

Rep. Raymund Mendoza, who represents TUCP in the House of Representatives’ party-list system, said the refusal to agree to a wage increase will not speak well of Central Visayas.

“It gives the impression that our region only favors business while labor continues in dire poverty, coupled with harassment of unions and trampling on their rights to organize, collective bargaining and just wages,” Mendoza said in a statement.

However, a member of the RTWPB, who refused to be named, said their decision to deny the two petitions does not mean the issue is already closed and that no increase will be granted.

This was confirmed in a separate interview by Director Asteria Caberte of the Department of Trade and Industry 7, vice chairperson of the RTWPB 7.

“Yes, we will still conduct deliberations in the next few weeks to determine whether there’s a need to increase wages, and if there is, how much?” Caberte said.

Director Elias Cayanong of the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) 7, who chairs the RTWPB 7, did not answer calls to his mobile phone. He was reportedly attending a meeting in Bohol.

In his statement, Mendoza said the labor representatives at the wage board consistently get outvoted by the business and government representatives.

“Junking of workers’ wage petition bars us from the opportunity for a ‘positive cycle’ where strengthening workers’ purchasing power leads to increased local consumption, requiring more production of goods, which in turn results in job generation,” Mendoza said.

The last time the wage board granted an increase was in 2008, which adjusted the daily floor wage by P17.(EOB)