DAILY WAGE HIKE: P13 FOR METRO CEBU WORKERS
The Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board in Central Visayas (RTWPB-7) approved yesterday a P13 daily wage increase in Metro Cebu for workers in the private sector.
The amount, which raises to P366 the minimum wage in Metro Cebu, was reached by the wage board following hours of deliberation yesterday that brought down the daily wage proposals from a high of P161 a day, to a median rate of P50 a day and finally settling on P13 a day.
Household workers in Cebu City are also in for a wage increase, with the RTWPB-7 giving its nod to raising the kasambahay’s minimum monthly pay from P2,000 to P3,000.
While some labor leaders described the P13 daily wage hike for Metro Cebu as a “joke” or even “an insult to the labor sector,” Exequiel Sarcauga, director of the Department of Labor and Employment in Central Visayas (DOLE-7) and chair of the seven-member RTWPB, said the amount was reached only after a serious discussion, and was accepted by both the labor and management representatives of the wage board.
Sarcauga said the board will meet again on Feb. 13 to discuss how the wage increase will be implemented and when it will take effect.
The wage board will also still have to deliberate if the increase will cover other provinces under RTWPB-7, namely, Bohol, Siquijor and Negros Oriental, Sarcauga said.
“Whether it will be implemented across the region or not, the board will decide it on Monday, but workers in Metro Cebu are assured of getting that increase,” Sarcauga said in Cebuano.
With the wage hike, workers in Metro Cebu — from Danao City in the north and Carcar City in the south including Lapu-Lapu City and Cordova town on Mactan Island — will now receive P366 per day from the current daily wage of P353.
The current minimum daily wages based on the last wage order are P353 for Class A or areas within Metro Cebu; P320 for Class B or areas outside of Metro Cebu excluding Bantayan and Camotes Islands; P310 for Class C or workers in Bohol and Negros Oriental; and P295 for Class D or workers in Siquijor, Bantayan Island and Camotes Island.
Negros Oriental workers are still under RTWPB-7 despite the creation of the Negros Island Region since the region still has no wage board, Sarcauga said.
But the wage board still has to discuss if workers outside of Metro Cebu and from Negros Oriental, Bohol and Siquijor can benefit from the P13 wage increase, Sarcauga said.
Lawyer Ernesto Carreon, one of two labor representatives in the RTWPB-7, revealed that some wage board members argued against granting Bohol the same wage increase since the workers there are reportedly receiving higher daily wages than those in the cities of Butuan and Cagayan de Oro.
The board rejected the petitions for wage increase filed by the Associated Labor Unions–Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP), which asked for P161 in across the board daily wage increase, and the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), which sought for a P140 daily wage hike.
Carreon said that after the two petitions were rejected, he moved for the granting of a P50 per day increase but was also rejected by the management sector.
The management representatives, who cited several reasons in opposing the wage increase like high cost of labor and production (such as cost of electricity), initially offered a P7 wage hike but eventually agreed to give P12, Sarcauga said.
The labor sector, arguing that inflation rate, reduction of the purchasing power and increase of consumer price index made a wage hike necessary, also agreed to lower their demand but only up to P14, Sarcauga said.
To have a compromise amount, Sarcauga said he suggested the P13 daily wage hike, which was eventually approved by the whole board.
Lawyer Jonas Asis, ALU-TUCP Central Visayas regional vice president, said the increase was so small and definitely not enough.
“Consuelo na lang nang kantidara. Samtang magpasalamat ta nga mihatag sila ana pero kuwang kaayo (It is a token amount. While we thank them for giving us an increase, it is not enough),” he said.
Asis said the workers especially ALU-TUCP only asked for an adjustment in the minimum wage because even government data showed that the actual purchasing power of the P353 is just around P242. Therefore, he said, the P161 adjustment they proposed was actually just meant to get the real value of the P353.
But Asis said the decision was not surprising since the past wage orders of RTWPB-7 usually settled only at around that much amount.
For Metudio Belarmino, president of Cebu Labor Coalition (Celac), the amount was a “joke.”
“Ila ra man siguro nga gi mata-mata. Mura man og grade one ilang pagtan-aw (It seemed they decided based just on some kind of a rough estimate. They think we are in Grade 1). This is an insult to labor groups. I thought change is coming, so where is that change they are talking about?” Belarmino told Cebu Daily News.
Celac had earlier proposed a P50 wage adjustment.
“We will be meeting with the labor groups on what we can do about this. Maybe another protest in front of DOLE-7,” Belarmino said.
Dennis Darige, coordinator of Partidong Manggagawa (PM), a member of APL, described the P13 wage adjustment as “useless.”
“Especially at this time that the cost of fuel and the cost of living have increased, that P13 wage increase has no effect to the workers,” Darige said in a phone interview.
Darige said PM is urging President Rodrigo Duterte to implement uniform wage rates across the country.
Sarcauga, meanwhile, said he respected the position taken by the labor groups and their plan to hold a protest action against the approved wage adjustment.
“It’s their opinion and that’s how they see it. We cannot argue with them if that’s their position,” Sarcauga told CDN.
He said the labor groups that are opposed to the new wage hike can file another wage petition at RTWPB-7.
The Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), on the other hand, will comply with the P13 daily minimum wage increase for Metro Cebu workers, said CCCI president Melanie Ng.
According to Ng, the approved wage hike was at the higher end of their computations, which took into account the effects of the increase on the Cebu business community, including closures, unemployment, price inflation, loan defaults, loss of investments and further losses in the stock exchange.
“Nonetheless, CCCI will remain to be a firm crusader of comparable labor rates with that of our Asean neighbors,” said Ng, who leads a group of around 700 member-businesses from all over Cebu.
Ng said CCCI will continue to accelerate its effort to bring business to the next level in order to attract more investors, expand business opportunities and create a profitable trade environment to broaden job creation.
Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) president Glenn Soco, for his part, said the wage hike will be an added burden to businesses in addition to the effects of the changes on the policies of the government pertaining to contractualization.
Soco said his group hoped there would be a moratorium on granting of wage adjustments in light of increasing costs of doing business in the Philippines, which has made businesses less competitive in the global market.
Gordon Alan Joseph, Cebu Business Club (CBC) president, meanwhile, said the P13 wage increase was “reasonable.”
“I do hope it leads to increased productivity,” he said.
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