New wage rates for Region 12 take effect

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/5 April) – The Department of Labor and Employment in Central Mindanao on Tuesday warned employers to comply with the new wage rates that took effect over the weekend.

Ma. Gloria Tango, DOLE regional director, said the P5 daily additional cost of living allowance (COLA) should now be incorporated in the April salaries of private sector workers.

She said that regional Wage Order No. RBXII-16 approved on October 31, 2010 directs a P15 COLA for minimum wage earners.

The first tranche of P10 took effect upon the approval date, and the remaining amount last April 1, Tango noted, adding they have fielded personnel to check if business owners are complying with the new wage rates.

Rene Gardose, Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board labor employment officer 3, said that private business owners face criminal charges, with a penalty of imprisonment, if they fail to comply with the order.

“Based on previous compliance trend, 75 to 85 percent of the inspected businesses incorporate the rate adjustments,” Gardose said by phone.

With the effectivity of the P5 daily COLA, the new minimum wage rates 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.

The new wage hike will cover all minimum wage earners in the private sector in Region XII regardless of their position, designation or status of employment, and irrespective of the method by which their wages are paid, Joel Gonzales, DOLE assistant regional director, said earlier.

Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

As in previous wage orders, exemption may be granted to certain type of establishments such as distressed establishments and those establishments whose total assets are not more than P3 million, Gonzales said.

The last wage adjustment in the region was granted in June 2008, providing wage adjustments in the basic wage ranging from P7 to P10.50 and a COLA ranging from P3 to P5, bringing up the minimum wage rates ranging from P219 to P245 daily.

Allan Yaphockun, regional governor of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry for Southwestern Mindanao, 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.”

Ryan Lariba, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Socsksargen spokesperson, slammed the new 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 a regular family.

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