P10 wage hike in SW Mindanao up; additional P5 increase coming

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/26 December)—The first of the two-tranche daily wage hike for workers in the private sector in Southwestern Mindanao is now officially in effect, top regional Labor department officials said.

Ma. Gloria A. Tango, Department of Labor and Employment regional chief, said the second of the two-tiered minimum salary adjustment shall be on April 1 after the initial one took effect last October 31.

The first adjustment in the minimum wage rate involved the daily cost of living allowance  (COLA) amounting to P10, she said.

Thus, from the P245 minimum daily wage rate in the non-agriculture  sector, a worker should now be paid P255, the new wage order stated.

In the agriculture sector, plantation and non-plantation workers shall have a daily minimum salary of P235 and P230 from P225 and P220, respectively, it added.

Those in the retail/service establishments are entitled to P235 daily pay from P225 (for businesses with more than 10 workers) and P229 from P219 to those with less than 10 employees, the wage order said.

By April 1, the minimum daily wage for private sector workers shall be increased by another five pesos in COLA, Tango said.

Joel M. Gonzales, Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board secretary, said the new wage rate took effect after complying with the publication requirement in a local newspaper.

Gonzales, also the Labor department assistant regional director, said the wage board reviewed the salary rate even without formal petitions from labor groups, or motu propio (on its own).

For two years until the new wage order, there has been no salary increase for minimum wage earners in the private sector in the region.

In June last year, the prescriptive one-year period to file a wage increase had lapsed, with the wage order in effect still dated June 16, 2008.

The business sector immediately nixed the looming wage adjustment in the region, which straddles the provinces of South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani and the cities of Koronadal, General Santos, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

Allan D. Yaphockun, regional governor of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry for Southwestern Mindanao, earlier said they would have preferred for a status quo as the new rate would be an additional burden to employers.

Nevertheless, Yaphockun said they could do nothing “but comply with the order.”

He urged the Labor department to closely monitor the proper implementation of the new wage rate, especially among big business establishments.

Ryan Lariba, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Socsksargen chief, slammed the wage adjustment, saying it is too small for the needs of the workers.

He noted that in the region, the cost of living is now valued at P698 for an average family.

Lariba said a legislated P125 nationwide across-the-board daily wage increase would have been better than regionalized adjustments. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)