Cordillera wage hike consultations set

THE Cordillera office of the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) is conducting massive consultations regionwide to gather the sentiments of the formal sector and the domestic workers for the possibility of having a wage hike for both the minimum wage earners and the domestic workers.

Augusto Aquillo, RTWPB-Cordillera Administrative Region board secretary, said initial consultations were already done Baguio and Benguet, Ifugao and Mountain Province over the past two months while future consultations will be held in Kalinga on January 10, 2017, followed by the consultations in Apayao and in Abra on January 12, 2017.

Aquillo encouraged the general public, particularly the employers, employees and domestic workers, to actively participate in the series of consultations regionwide to be appraised on the possibility of adjusting the prevailing minimum wage in the region currently pegged at P285 per day for those in the non-agricultural sector.

According to Aquillo, interested participants can write their stand or opinion on possible minimum wage increases, then submit these during the public consultation.

Aquillo explained wage deliberations will subsequently follow after the series of consultations and all the inputs from the public during the consultations will be considered by the members of the board as part of the process of ascertaining the needed adjustment to the prevailing minimum wage in the region.

The RTWPB official revealed the topics for the consultations shall primarily focus on socio-economic data or factors which have repercussions or effects on companies and on the economic needs of workers and their families and in the said case, any wage adjustment shall balance the interest of both the workers and their employers.

Aquillo said this should clarify the perception that once a public consultation hearing on wage increase is conducted by the RTWPB, automatically there is a forthcoming increase in the wages of workers through the issuance of a new wage order.

Labor officials expressed confidence all employers and their workers will take a time out from their duties and attend any of the above mentioned schedules of consultations/hearings and reiterated the fact that any increase in wages is a serious matter having a direct effect on both employers and workers and therefore should be discussed openly.

It is hoped that all the sentiments and opinions of all the affected parties be carefully heard and their position papers properly studied.

Based on the initial results of the consultations, in the case of wage increase for domestic workers, both parties were unanimous in saying that house helpers should be given a raise in their monthly salaries and they also claimed that the minimum wage rates for domestic workers in the region which currently stand at P2,500 per month in cities and first class municipalities and P2,000 per month in other areas are below the actual rates paid to domestic workers in the region which range from P2,500 as the lowest to P4,000 plus as the highest.

However, Aquillo noted what was surprising during the Ifugao and Mt. Province Consultations was the revelation that more participants would prefer that the wage-fixing function of the government should continue to be exercised by the RTWPB rather than Congress. Participants perceive the wage increases through the RTWPB are more reflective or more responsive to the needs of workers and their employers’ capacity to pay as they can analyze the prevailing socio-economic condition in the region.

Aquillo explained the series of wage increase consultations is a mandatory part of the legal process for wage-fixing as required by law.

He further said that what comes next after the wage consultations is the series of wage deliberations to determine if whether a new wage order shall be issued to raise the level of wages of the minimum wage earners across the Cordilleras or not. (Dexter See/PIO)

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