WAGE HIKE IS NOT ENOUGH
The P20-daily minimum wage hike could neither cover his daily fare nor pay for a meal while at work. Mark Anthony Bitolon said don’t get him wrong. He was thankful for the P20 wage hike agreed by the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board in Central Visayas (RTWPB-7).
But for the 20-year-old service crew of a fast food outlet inside a mall in North Reclamation Area, the wage hike would still not suffice to give his mother a sigh of relief what with the soaring prices of basic commodities.
The same concern was pointed out by labor groups as they received the news.
“Gamay gyud kaayo na nga umento sa suholan. Nagpakita lang ni unsa ang RTWPB ug kang kinsa nga interes ang ilang giprotektahan (The wage hike is too small. It just showed whose interest the RTWPB is protecting),” said Jaime Paglinawan, Visayas chairman of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU).
According to Paglinawan, the P20-wage hike in Metro Cebu will not be enough to aid the minimum wage earners from the burden caused by the increase in the prices of commodities induced by the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) law.
“Karong tuiga, nisugod ang palas-unon sa katawhan pinaagi sa nagkataas nga presyo sa mga palaliton tungod sa Train law unya padayon nga gilansang ang suholan,” Paglinawan said at the sidelines of their Independence Day protest on Tuesday.
(This year, workers have started carrying the burden of the soaring prices of commodities caused by the Train law while their salaries remain low.)
Yesterday, June 12, KMU launched a signature campaign that seeks to ask the Congress to abolish the Train law and to support the proposed House Bill No. 7787, which seeks to set a national minimum wage of P750.
The campaign targets to gather at least 100,000 signatures in Cebu to complete the targeted one million signatures nationwide.
Paglinawan said that setting a high wage rate would not hurt the businesses. Rather, it would propel the economy.
“Makapatuyok ni sa ekonomiya dili sama karon nga ang mga mamumuo walay kapasidad nga mopalit sa ilang mga gusto ug kinahanglan (It will keep the economy going; not like now when the workers no longer have the capacity to buy their wants and their needs),” said Paglinawan.
However, Phillip Tan, the employer’s sector representative in the wage board, said the labor groups would need to understand the limitations in increasing their wages.
“As much as we want to give a bigger increase, di man gyud nato mahatag … Kung di na sad mabuhi ang mga negosyante. Mosamot man pod ang problema kay modaghan ang unemployed (we cannot afford to give it ... businesses also need to survive. We will have a bigger problem if the unemployed will increase),” said Tan.
Tan added that the wage increase that they have agreed upon was based on economic indicators and was not made through guessing.
Associated Labor Union-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) national spokesperson, however, also lashed at the stratification of the wages in the region.
Alan Tanjusay, ALU-TUCP national spokesperson, said that continuing to impose an uneven wage rate for the different areas of the region may do more harm than good.
RTWPB-7 divided the region into four classes: Class A is composed of cities and municipalities within Metro Cebu; Class B is composed of the other cities and municipalities in Cebu province excluding Bantayan and Camotes Islands; Class C is for component cities and municipalities of Bohol and Negros Oriental; while Class D is composed of the municipalities in Siquijor province and the islands of Bantayan and Camotes.
While the P20 increase applies to Class A areas, Classes B, C and D areas will only be given a P15minimum wage hike.
When the new wage order takes effect, the new minimum wage in Class A areas is P386 from P366; Class B will have a P348 daily wage rate from P333; Class C areas will get a P338 daily wage from P323; and Class D will have a new daily wage rate of P323 from a previous rate of P308.
Differences in cost of living
Department of Labor and Employment in Central Visayas (DOLE-7) Regional Director Alvin Villamor, chair of RTWPB-7, explained that the differences in the wage rate was based on the cost of living in the areas.
He said that because cost of living is evidently higher in Metro Cebu, the board agreed to grant a higher wage hike in the area.
In the official statement released by ALU-TUCP, Tanjusay said that a stratified wage system may induce an influx of workers who might choose to work in Metro Cebu because of higher wage rates, prompting an overcrowded population in urban areas.
ALU-TUCP also maintained that the P20 increase is not enough to lift ordinary workers out of poverty.