Cebu Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - by Ros­alie O. Abatayo CORRESPONDENT WAGE HIKE

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.)

Sig­na­ture cam­paign

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.

Fair de­ci­sion

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.

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