Biz leaders in R-12 to tackle wage hike demand

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/07 April) – Business leaders in Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao are set to hold consultations with local chambers of commerce in a bid to forge a consensus on the renewed calls for another wage increase for private workers in the region.
Allan Yaphockun, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) regional governor said Thursday they will mainly initiate discussions with local business stakeholders on the impact of the ongoing unrest in several oil-producing countries in the Middle East and Northern Africa.
The political conflicts in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Bahrain and other nations in the oil-rich regions have caused world oil prices to increase to record levels and eventually triggered drastic hikes in
oil prices in the country.
“It’s about time that we take a closer look at the situation, especially its impact on our businesses and employees, and set some strategies that would help us cope with the situation,” Yapchockun said in a radio interview.
Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
Yaphockun said he is initially scheduled to sit down within the next few days with officials and members of the South Cotabato Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (SCCCI) in Koronadal City.
The PCCI official, whose hardware and construction supply businesses are mainly based in Koronadal, is also member of SCCCI.
Yaphockun said they will determine whether there’s a need to implement another increase in the minimum daily wages of local workers, who already received a P15 salary adjustment in October last year.
“Business, in general, has already slowed down as a result of the crisis and we understand that it also affected our workers,” he said.
Yaphockun said they included the plight of their workers in their upcoming discussions “since they’re also part of our business operations.”
Since January, pump prices of gasoline and diesel fuel already increased by more than P7 per liter, causing retail prices in some parts of the area to breach the P60-mark per liter.
The oil price hikes prompted producers and traders of basic commodities, among them sugar, rice and other food items, to implement significant price adjustments.
None among the organized labor groups in the region has so far filed any petition for a wage increase but organizations allied with militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan had been pushing for a P125 across-the-board legislated salary hike for minimum wage earners.
The Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) of Region 12 approved regional Wage Order No. RBXII-16 on October 31, 2010 that provided an additional P15 in the daily cost of living allowance or Cola of local workers.
The first tranche of P10 took effect upon the approval date and the remaining amount last April 1.
With the effectivity of the P5 daily Cola, the new minimum wage rates in the region has increased to P260 for workers in the non-agriculture sector, P240 for plantation workers, P235 for non-plantation workers, P240 for retail/service establishments employing more than 10 workers, and P234 for retail/service establishments employing less than 10 workers. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)