No wage increases for workers in Regions 9 & 12

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/28 Apr) – There will be no welcome news of any wage increases for workers in Regions 9 and 12 on Labor Day, May 1.

Despite the high prices of petroleum products and some basic commodities, the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards (RTWPB) in both regions said there will be no wage hikes during these times.

The wage boards said they found no “supervening condition” that would warrant any increase of workers’ minimum wage.

“We did not find any justification to declare a supervening condition based on the socio-economic data we have gathered,” Ma. Gloria Tango, regional director of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Southwestern Mindanao (Region 12), said.

For their part, labor officials in Western Mindanao (Region 9) said the RTWPB in the region did not receive any petition for wage increase from labor groups. “The [RTWPB] will only act based on the petition from the labor sector,” said DOLE-9 Regional Director Ponciano Ligutom.

Tango said a declaration from the board of the existence of “ a supervening condition” would have paved the way for the granting of wage adjustments.

She said the “supervening condition” is needed since workers in Southwestern Mindanao have been granted a hike through a wage order issued last year.

Tango said wage orders carry a one-year prescriptive period and thus no new wage hikes will be made within a year.

Last April 1, workers from Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, the two Cotabato provinces, and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato got additional five pesos in their cost of living allowance (COLA). It was the final tranche of the P15 increase in the COLA that was mandated by the wage order issued last year.

At present, non-agricultural workers in Region 11 are receiving P260 daily minimum wage, P240 for plantation agricultural workers, P235 for non-plantation workers, P240 for retail and service establishments workers, and P234 for establishments with less than 10 workers.

Allan Yaphockun, regional governor of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said traders prefer that no new wage hikes would be granted until the prescription period lapses.

Meanwhile, in Zamboanga City, Jose Suan, president of the Philippine integrated Industries Labor Union, said any petition for wage increase is not justified since the inflation rate in Western Mindanao has remained stable.

Suan said the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) estimated that the inflation rate in the region was 5.5 percent last March.

“We need to have at least a 7.5 percent inflation rate for a justified petition to increase our wages,” Suan said.

The present minimum daily wage for workers in Western Mindanao is P255 a day, P230 for agricultural workers, P210 for cottage and handicraft workers, and P235 for establishments with less than ten workers. (Bong S. Sarmiento, with reports)