WAGE INCREASE SOUGHT

By: Jhunnex Napallacan, Michelle Joy L. Padayhag June 16,2016 - 10:58 PM
Labor groups are pushing for a P140 wage increase for Central Visayas laborers like these road construction workers. (CDN FILE PHOTO)

Labor groups are pushing for a P140 wage increase for Central Visayas laborers like these road construction workers. (CDN FILE PHOTO)

But businessmen say there is no basis for a wage hike

Five labor groups asked for a P140 increase in the daily wage for workers in Central Visayas before the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB-7).

But a business leader strongly opposed the petition, saying there’s not enough basis for an increase in wages for now.

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE 7) is now conducting a review of economic conditions to determine if the petition for wage increase has basis, especially that the one-year period since the last wage increase will still be in October. Under the law, the wage board can grant a wage increase only after a year has lapsed since the last wage increase, unless there are supervening conditions that would warrant another increase before the one-year period ends.

The prevailing daily minimum wage in Metro Cebu is P353, with the P13 per day increase granted by the RTWPB-7 last October 10,2015.

Petition

Yesterday, the Cebu Labor Coalition, Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), Cebu Midtown Hotel Employees Union, LONBISCO Employees Organization and the NUWHRAIN Montebello Chapter filed a petition before the wage board, asking for a P140 increase in the daily wage.

Last April 20, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines also filed a petition asking for a P161 across-the-board increase in the daily wage.

DOLE regional director Exequiel Sarcauga, chairman of the 7-member board, said they will consolidate the two wage hike petitions.

“Whether these petitions will be given due course or not, that we will have to find out after the review of our economic conditions,” Sarcauga said.

The petition said wage boards have been issuing “meager token wage increases” in the last two decades because decisions arrived at during deliberations are dominated by the employer-representatives, citing a study conducted by the Institute for Labor Studies of the DOLE.

The petitioners claimed that they used the May 2016 data from the National Statistics Office as basis for a wage hike on inflation rate, unstable oil prices, insufficient wage increases in the past, an increase in the prices of the basic commodities, increase of the water and electricity rates, among others.

Baseless

But Robert Go, president of the Philippine Retailers Association–Cebu and owner of Prince Warehouse Club, disagreed with the petition. He said our inflation rate ranges between 1 to 2 percent, which is the lowest in years.

“We have the lowest inflation rate in years. Tungod kay gamay ang atong inflation rate, wa gyod mosaka ang atong basic commodities (Because we have a low inflation rate, prices of basic commodities have not gone up),” he said.

Go said there was no increase in the prices of basic staples — rice , corn and sugar. He noted that there was also no recent increase in water and electricity rates.

Oil prices have gone down in the past months, and although there were recent fuel price increases, they did not surpass the total accumulated decreases.

“There is not much reason. . . . There is no reason why there is increase if they say this is because of the inflation,” he added.

And even if there is a need to increase wages, Go said P140 is too much and will definitely be bad for the economy and will kill the small and medium companies which comprise at least 98 percent of the entire industry.

He said foreign investments will go to other Asian countries which have cheaper production cost compared to our country.

In fact, he said, several export companies ceased their operations and transferred to other countries already.

“Dili ingon niana kadako ang increases sa wage (The increase should not be that big) if there’s a need. It is already too much and it will also kill the economy),” Go said.

Hopeful

Metudio Belarmino Jr., president of the Cebu Labor Coalition, said they are still hopeful that a wage increase would be granted.

If the P140 increase is granted, the minimum daily wage for Metro Cebu would reach P493.

Last year, they filed a petition to increase the daily wage by P145 but only P13 was granted.

Belarmino expressed hope that the board would consider their petition, saying: “We have studied this with statistics coming from the National Statistics Office.”

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TAGS: Cebu, labor, labor group, minimum wage, salary, wage increase

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