R-12 wage board to meet on possible pay hike

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/31 August) – The Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) of Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao will meet here Thursday with leaders and representatives of organized labor, local firms or employers and concerned non-government and government agencies to discuss a possible increase in the daily minimum wages of private workers in the region.

Renato Gardose, RTWPB-12 information officer, said Tuesday the scheduled meeting here is part of the two-day consultations and public hearing set by the wage board regarding the proposed wage adjustment.

“Until now we have not received any petition for wage increase so the board is initiating these hearings by its own,” Gardose told MindaNews.

Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
The RTWPB-led regional consultations and public hearings are scheduled at 1pm Thursday at the Phela Grande Hotel and at the same on Friday at the AJ Hitime Hotel in Kidapawan City.

Gardose said they expect more than 100 labor, management and public sector representatives will participate in the scheduled hearings here and in Kidapawan City.
“As part of the standard procedure regarding the proposed wage increases, we published a notice of hearing for 15 days and sent official notices to our participating groups and sectors,” he said.

After the hearings, Gardose said the wage board is required to render a decision regarding the proposed wage increase within 45 days.
But in the previous years, he cited that the RTWPB-12 had issued its decisions in less than a month.

“We consider this matter as urgent so we’ll probably come up with an issuance within that (one month) period,” he said.

Lawyer Ma. Gloria Tango, Department of Labor and Employment-Region 12 director, earlier said the scheduled hearings will focus on the review of the region’s economic situation and the area’s wage situation.
“The RTPB deemed it necessary to hold the hearings to determine whether Wage Order No. 15 is still relevant with the present economic situation in the region,” said Tango, who chairs the RTWPB-12.

The official was referring to the wage decision they passed in June 2008 that set the minimum daily wage in the area at P245 for workers in the non-agriculture sector.
In the agriculture sector, the wage order set the daily pay for plantation workers at P225 while non-plantation workers receive P220.
Last April, the wage board launched region-wide consultations with local workers’ groups, employers and other concerned sectors to assess the possibility of implementing a wage hike.

Joel Gonzales, RTWPB-12 secretary, said they felt there was a need to increase the minimum wages of private workers in the wake of the impact of the economic and power crises as well as the drought that had hit the region but said the board decided that it was not yet the appropriate time to implement the measure. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)