Labor dep’t in R-12 to hold consultations on wage hike

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/02 May) – Taking its cue from the Labor Day message of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao will conduct another round of consultations this month to determine whether there’s a need to increase anew the daily wages of private workers in the region.

Ma. Gloria Tango, DOLE Region 12 director, said Monday the consultations will focus on establishing the current socioeconomic scenario within the region’s four provinces and five cities in the wake of the series of oil prices increases as a result of the continuing crisis in North Africa and the Middle East.

“The results [of the consultations] will serve as basis for the possible declaration of a supervening condition in the region,” she said.

A declaration of supervening condition would pave the way for a review of the prevailing minimum wage rates in the region and the possible implementation of a new adjustment although the one year prescriptive period for review has not yet lapsed.

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

Tango said the initial round of consultations, which will be spearheaded by the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB)-Region 12, will be conducted in this city on May 18.

Similar activities would also be held later on in other key cities in the region, she said.

The labor official said they have invited officials and representatives from organized labor groups, employers’ sector, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and other concerned agencies to join the activity.

Tango said they have asked DTI and NEDA to provide the latest data on the region’s socioeconomic condition, especially the movement of commodity prices, as a result of the oil price hikes.

The prices of various oil products, especially gasoline and diesel fuel, already increased by more than P9 per liter, triggering an increase in the prices of some basic goods and public transportation fares.

The oil price increases were blamed on the drastic adjustments of oil prices in the global market as reportedly caused by the worsening political conflict in Libya and other Middle Eastern and North African nations.

Last week, the RTPWPB-12 launched an initial review of the region’s socio-economic condition but it ruled out the need to declare a supervening condition.

Tango, who chairs the RTPWB-12, said they did not consider issuing the declaration earlier as the results of their review and consultations showed that the movement of commodity prices in the region has remained normal as of last March.

She said the inflation rate in the region during the period turned out even lower when compared to that of the same period last year.

“This time, we will be evaluating the socioeconomic data for the month of April so we’ll see if there are some drastic price movements and other related changes,” Tango said.

The region’s minimum wage earners received a P15 increase in their daily cost of living allowance or COLA only last October based on Wage Order No. RBXII-16 issued by RTWPB-12.

The first tranche of P10 took effect upon the approval date and the remaining amount last April 1.

With the implementation of the P15 additional daily COLA, the new minimum wage rates increased to P260 for workers in the non-agriculture, 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)