THE Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) turned down the call of the Employers' Confederation of the Philippines (Ecop) for a wage hike freeze as the Aquino administration is about to introduce a new salary-setting system.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the petitions being heard by at least four Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards (RTWPBs) will still continue despite the call.

"We just have to let all the wage boards to finish all the petition pending before them... as they still have to conclude the public consultations and hearings," Baldoz told reporters.

Records show that wage boards still unable to issue wage orders are of regions 4-A (Calabarzon), 4-B (Mimaropa), 7 (Central Visayas), and 8 (Eastern Visayas).

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Earlier this week, the Ecop called on the government to defer any forthcoming wage increase this year reasoning that businesses are just beginning to recover from the slowdown in global demands.

Businessmen said the government should just focus on job-generation efforts instead of considering proposals of minimum wage increases.

According to Baldoz, both workers and businessmen should, instead, just look forward to the implementation of the new wage system as the answer to their respective concerns.

"After these petitions have been resolved, we hope we can already start working towards a wage-fixing system that will take into account what is real minimum and what is over minimum under the two-tiered wage system," said the labor chief.

By next year, Baldoz said they are hoping that they can already implement the new wage system in the country after they complete all the necessary technical studies.

She added that based on the initial proposal of the system, the first tier would be a mandatory national wage or floor wage, which would protect the incomes of the most vulnerable sectors from undue low wages.

On the other hand, she related that the second tier is a productivity-based approach to determining wages above the floor level that is being eyed to encourage improvement in the performance of employees.

"Hopefully, we can look forward to a time when we add the minimum wage and the productivity-based wage and we can approximate what the Constitution calls for, which is a living wage," said Baldoz. AMN/Sunnex)