New wage rates approved by Western Visayas Board

Published June 12, 2018, 11:52 AM

by Francine Ciasico

By Mark L. Garcia

Bacolod City — Good news for minimum wage earners in Western Visayas.

Workers fix steel bars on the girder as part of the expansion work on Maa bridge along the Diversion Road in Davao City. Road expansion and other construction projects are a common sight in the city, which is now considered as one of the fastest growing cities in the country. (Keith Bacongco|Manila Bulletin)
(Keith Bacongco|Manila Bulletin file photo)

The Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board announced that the daily minimum wage rates will increase by P13.50 and P41.50 for all types of workers respectively in Western Visayas this year.

RTWPB Chair and Department of Labor and Employment Regional Director Johnson Cañete announced this Monday afternoon at the Sugar Workers Development Center in DOLE Compound here, and he hopes that it will be implemented in August after it will be screened by the central office.

During the media briefing, Cañete said that minimum wages in the non-agricultural, commercial, and industrial business establishments employing more than 10 workers will increase from P323.50 to P365 this year, an additional of P26.50 to the salaries plus P15 cost of living allowance (COLA).

For non-agricultural, commercial, and industrial business establishments employing less than 10 workers, an additional P18.50 plus P5 COLA will be implemented to their minimum wages that will make employees’ salaries to P295 from the current P271.50.

The wage order, Cañete said, also unified the plantation and non-plantation subcategories for agricultural sector and increased the salaries to P295 including a P5 COLA.

This means that the previous plantation workers’ wages will increase by P13.50 (from P281.50), and non-plantation workers by P23.50 (from P271.50).

In the sugar industry enterprise, COLA will only be added during milling season, Cañete said, adding that if the new wage order will be implemented, COLA will only be added after six months in time with the milling starts.

The wage order will be passed to the National Wages and Productivity Commission to be corrected if there are technical errors and will be given to the office of Secretary Silvestre Bello afterwards.

He said that a meeting on either June 17 or 18 was also set by the NWPC about the new wage order the RTWBP has made.

Basing on the records of the Philippine Statistics Authority, about 60,000 business establishments are expected to follow this new order, he added. If implemented, it will be the 24th wage order for Western Visayas.

Above poverty threshold This new wage order was implemented after the Philippine Agricultural, Commercial, and Industrial Workers Union-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (PACIWU-TUCP) presented a petition January this year for a P130 to P150 daily wage increase.

In earlier months, RTWPB conducted series a of consultations and public hearings in the provinces around the region before the members of the wage board held a deliberation in Bacolod City on June 6 and June 8.

Cañete said that this increase in wages was agreed by both labor and management representatives in the RTWPB where both parties presented their proposals and consolidated them for the board to create the Wage Order No. 24.

He said that the increase in minimum wages is above the poverty threshold as measured by the National Economic and Development Authority, which is at P289 per day.

Poverty threshold is the minimum income/expenditure required for a family/individual to meet the basic food and non-food requirements, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority website.

“With this new wage order, we will not be below the poverty threshold but we also made sure that it would not reach P400 as it would violate its essence as the employers will have no capacity to answer the labor’s demand,” he said.

‘Lighten the burden’

RTWPB Labor Representative Wennie Sancho also said in a statement that even if the new wage order will not establish a sufficient economic condition for the needs of all the workers in the region, it will lighten their economic burden of about 1.1 million workers.

“The labor sector agreed with the collective decision of the board as we are aware that this is the best we could do, under the present circumstances,” Sancho said, who is also the secretary-general of General Alliance of Workers Association-Negros Island.

He said that the increase in salaries will also give “immediate relief” amid the worsening economic conditions brought by the tax reform for acceleration and inclusion (TRAIN) law implementation this year.

Cañete said he hopes that the wage hike will also lighten the burden of the minimum wage earners in the region as the people felt the increase of prices of goods, adding that various government agencies have already expressed that TRAIN should not be blamed of these issues.

Apart from lightening the burden, the DOLE regional director also hopes that productivity will also get a boost with the new wage order.