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Minimum daily wage in C. Visayas up by P17

May 23, 2008 3:01am
CEBU CITY, Philippines – The minimum daily wage increase in Central Visayas is P17.

Members of the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) approved the wage adjustment during its final deliberations at the Casino Español Wednesday afternoon.

In 2007, the board set the minimum wage in the region at P250. The new increase has brought the daily minimum to P267.

The increase, however, is not across-the-board, leading labor representatives to warn of wage distortions.

Pay increases for those earning more than the minimum wage are left to the discretion of the management. A management representative said that while some companies are raking in huge profits, others are struggling.

The P17 increase will take effect 15 days after the new wage order is published on a newspaper. But before publication, National Wages and Productivity Council will review the adjustment in accordance with standards and technicalities.

RTWPB Chairman Elias Cayanong, the Department of Labor and Employment 7 director, said that because of the increase in prices of commodities, the increase will take effect in all sectors in the region, whether industrial or agricultural.

Lawyer Jose Boquecosa of the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) and Maria-nito Ventura of the Trade Union of the Philippines and Allied Services expressed dismay over the P17 increase.

Boquecosa and Ventura are the labor representatives in the board. They had initially pushed for a P150 across-the-board daily wage increase.

They had to lower the proposed increase to P35, P30, P25, P24, P23, P22, P21, and finally P20.

Ventura said he could not understand why management and government representatives did not accept their last proposal of P20 as daily wage increase when several businessmen already said they could afford it.

Can’t afford

National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) 7 Director Marlene Rodriguez said she proposed a P25-increase for all workers. Rodriguez, however, said she voted for P17 after management representatives said several companies could not afford a higher increase.

Lawyer Hedelito Pascual, a management representative to the RTWPB, said before deliberations started, he and businessmen Charles Streegan, another management representative, thought of supporting only an increase between P10 and P15.

Pascual said export companies even pushed for no wage increase at all because of rising operational costs and the low value of the dollar.

During the voting, Pascual, Streegan, Rodri-guez and Director Asteria Caberte of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) 7 voted in favor of the P17 increase.

Ventura said that because the wage hike order is not across-the-board, it will create a wage distortion.

But Cayanong said the distortion will be fixed later because there are mechanisms and processes to deal with wage distortions.

“If ever there will be wage distortion, the Dole or the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) will decide on it," Cayanong said.

Rodriguez said they expect the labor sector to clamor that the increase is not acceptable.

“But we also have to contain the effect of it on the economy and the inflation. Even in employment, if you come up with so much increase which the management cannot afford, there will be retrenchment," Rodriguez said.

During deliberations, Cayanong said they went through different scenarios on the possible effect of a salary increase on the country’s gross domestic product, inflation, employment rate and other economic factors.

Neda 7 said that compared to other regions, where some only granted cost-of-living allowances (Cola), the RTWPB 7’s approval of the P17 increase is considered the
best.

Pascual said they had a benchmark during the deliberation, considering that other regions like Metro Manila approved a P20-per day increase while Region 8 ordered a P15-increase. – Sun.Star Cebu
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