FOR Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB)management group representative Phillip Tan, the P125 wage hike sought by the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) is too high for employers. He warned that a sudden surge of workers’ wages could endanger the country’s competitiveness.

Tan made these statements in a sideline interview yesterday morning, adding that the wage board, which was scheduled to meet yesterday afternoon, will soon come up with their sentiments on the proposed wage hike.

“We have to look at it as a competitive issue, for us to be able to compete. How can you compete if the (labor) cost is too high? In Vietnam, the labor cost is very cheap and that will be discouraging for future investors to come to the Philippines,” Tan explained at the sidelines of the Mandaue Investment Forum held in Mandaue City.

Last week, Dole ordered a review of the P125 across-the-board wage hike proposal.

“You are hereby instructed to convene your respective RTWPBs to consult and generate consensus or comments on the anticipated filing of legislative measures proposing a P125 across-the-board increase in the wages of workers in the private sector in the 17th Congress,” a Dole memorandum said.

As such, RTWPBs are required to submit their consolidated findings on or before Sept. 14. RTWPBs are mandated by law to identify and adjust the minimum wage rates and structure applicable in a particular region.

“The increase of salary is always there. We only have to balance it out. As much as we also want to be fair with labor, that they can be given the right benefits, making it sweeping would be more of a destruction,” Tan said.

The local business leader, who served as the past president of the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said this is not the first time a substantial wage increase has been raised. Some progressive groups have consistently clamored for the wage adjustment since the 13th Congress in 2006.

Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Melanie Ng said the private sector will coordinate with Tan on the proposed measure and that they will come up with a joint manifesto after consulting with various business stakeholders in Cebu.

“Our main concern is to increase opportunities for job creation and lower cost of doing business. In order for businesses to be viable and to encourage more investments in the country, we have to make sure an investor and a business friendly climate is maintained,” she said.

In another development, Dole 7 said its labor law compliance officers (LLCOs) have begun assessing establishments following President Rodrigo Duterte’s marching orders to end illegal contractualization.

Priority establishments that have been identified to have high incidence of “endo” and “555” or other forms of prohibited employment arrangements are in manufacturing, malls, food chains, hotels, and restaurants.

According to Dole 7 Director Exequiel Sarcauga, Dole’s LLCOs are grouped into several teams that are looking into the identified priority industries.

“Before we begin the conduct of our assessment, we make sure to cover as many industries as we can in our endo orientations,” Sarcauga said in a statement.

In addition to previously facilitated endo orientations, Dole 7 conducted orientations with Robinsons Malls last Tuesday and with the manufacturing industry yesterday.

Other orientations are set on the following dates: Visayas-wide Focused Group Discussion at Harolds Hotel on Sept. 10; Regional Tripartite Industrial Peace Council at Hotel Pier 4 on Sept. 13; Gaisano Group of Companies on Sept. 14; SM on Sept. 15, and Industry Tripartite Council in Maritime on Sept. 16.

Sarcauga said that apart from informing Dole’s partner industries of the government’s move towards ending endo, it is also important that they thoroughly understand what the law says on permissible and prohibited contracting and subcontracting arrangements.

According to Dole Legal Officer lawyer Roy Buenafe, there are two types of contracting: job contracting that is permissible by law and labor-only contracting, the illegal practice.

Labor-only contracting happens when the contractor doesn’t have substantial capital or investment to actually perform the job, work, or service under its own act and responsibility, said Buenafe. In addition, employees recruited, supplied or placed by such contractor are performing activities that are directly related to the main business of the company.