Workers want P155 pay hike but bizmen say that’s ‘too high’

By Jessa Mae O. Sotto, Jose Santino S. Bunachita February 28,2018

Labor groups in Cebu have filed a petition seeking an additional P155.80 daily wage adjustment for minimum wage earners in Central Visayas.

Cebu Labor Coalition (CELAC) Spokesperson Metudio Belarmino Jr., explained that minimum wage earners are greatly affected by the increase of the prices of basic commodities due to the implementation of Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) Law signed by President Rodrigo Duterte which took effect last January 1.

“Naglaom ta nga dunay increase kay lisod man sab og wala kay nakita nato nga grabe na gyod ang epekto sa Train Law,” Belrmino told reporters yesterday.

(We are hoping for an increase because of the difficulties we experience due to the effects of Train Law).

But the business sector immediately reacted to the proposal saying the suggested increase is too much for businesses to absorb.

TRAIN effects

The Train law is causing gradual increases of oil prices, transportation cost, basic commodities, and electricity, among others starting this year and even more in the next two years.

Aside from the effect of Train Law, Belarmino also mentioned other factors such as the consumer price index in Cebu which is at 155.7 and the high inflation rate of 3.2 as of January 2018, resulting to the decrease of value of the purchasing power of the peso to only 64 centavos.

Also, the petition states that the cost of living in the region is beyond the purchasing capacity of the workers.

Belarmino emphasized that because of these factors, the current minimum wage of P366 per day becomes P234.24 only.

He added that they are computing the inflation rate and the consumer’s price index to come up with their demand of additional P155.80 wage adjustments. This would be on top of the existing P366 minimum wage, which would raise it to P521.80.

Doing this would maintain the purchasing power of workers at the 1989 level wherein Belarmino said it had the perfect value of 2.5.

“There is really a need to increase. All other sectors have already a salary increase such as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the police,” he said.

‘Too high’

Sought for comment, Steven Yu, vice president for external affairs of the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), said the amount being requested by the labor groups is too high.

“I think that is too high for businesses to absorb because the business sector is also experiencing strong competition and I think the business sector might not be able to afford that especially the industry sector,” he told CDN.

Yu explained that the Philippines in general is experiencing competition from its neighbor countries in Southeast Asia like Vietnam and Myanmar which are becoming destinations of choice for manufacturing companies in the region.

Presently, Yu said the minimum wage rate in the Philippines is “not exactly on the low side” compared to other ASEAN countries.

This is why he said it is important for the government and the private sector to arrive at a compromise regarding this issue.

“I think it’s very hard. I think the business sector, we need a few more time to adjust. We need more time to absorb an adjustment on wages,” Yu said.
“We’re not saying it should not go up. But I think we need more time to catch up and improve profitability,” he added.

CDN tried to get the comment of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) on the proposal but no official could react on it yet as the chamber just elected a new set of officers yesterday noon.

Labor groups who filed the petition before the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB-7) are from Celac, Lonbisco Employees Organization (LEO), Metaphil Workers Union (MWU), Nuwhrain-Montebello Charter, N-Katipunan and Unionbank Employees Association (UBEA).

Meanwhile, Department of Labor and Employment in Central Visayas (DOLE-7) Director and Chairman of the Wage Board Cyril Ticao said that he will be meeting with the members of the RTWPB-7 on March 8 to discuss about the petition.

“We will convene first for us to deliberate on what will be our next move,” he said.

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