PRIVATE workers in Northern Mindanao will be receiving an additional P13 in their basic salary starting October this year.

Aside from the increase, the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board

(RTWPB) in the region also recommended to the office of the National Wages Productivity Commission (NWPC) in Manila to integrate the P12 cost of living allowance (Cola) into the basic salary.

Presently, non-agricultural private workers in Northern Mindanao are receiving a minimum pay of P244 per day plus P12 Cola.

With the new wage order, the Cola would now be integrated into the basic salary plus P13 increase per day, making the basic salary of non-agricultural workers into P269 per day.

Odette Leh, RTWPB-Northern Mindanao information officer, said the integration of Cola and the additional increase are contained in Wage Order 15 that the board came up after a series of consultations and public hearings conducted earlier with members of labor groups, employers and government representatives.

In the recommendation, Leh said after 15 days of publication in a newspaper of general circulation, the integration takes effect, which would be on October 1,

2010.

"The integration explains that the P12 Cola of every worker will now be added to the basic salary. This is an advantage to the worker because the benefits he or she receives are computed based on the actual minimum pay such as overtime pay, 13th month and compulsory contributions with Pag-Ibig, PhilHealth and Social Security System," Leh said.

She added that the board is now fast-tracking the effectivity of the integration to augment the basic pay of the workers.

The last increase on the basic pay of private workers took effect two years ago.

Leh said the RTWPB in the region was the first in Mindanao to recommend an increase to the NWPC.

Earlier, labor groups in the region have filed for a P75-across-the-board wage increase.

However, during public hearings, majority of the employers refused to grant the P75 increase and instead lobbied for an increase of not more than P20 and not less than P10.

But the Associated Labor Union-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines

(ALU-TUCP) tagged the meager P13 increase as "amount for buying candies."

"We expect that the wage board grants the petition of the TUCP for the workers to have a decent income. We simply want a decent life," said Nicandro Borja, vice chairperson of ALU-TUCP for Northern Mindanao.

Alan Macaraya, RTWPB-Northern Mindanao chairperson and regional director of the Department of Labor and Employment, said the board had weighed down side by side proposals to come up with a concrete decision.

"Let's wait that everything will be stabilized," Macaraya said, referring to the current "crisis situation" due to the El Niño phenomenon that causes brownouts, adversely affecting businesses. (Loui S. Maliza)