No wage hike for R12 workers despite oil price hikes

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/2 June) – Unlike their counterparts in Metro Manila and other areas in the country, minimum wage earners in Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao will not be getting an increase in their basic salaries anytime soon.

This, as the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) of Region 12 shot down for the second time in as many months the need to declare a supervening condition that would pave the way for a review and possible amendment of the existing wage order in the region.

Ma. Gloria Tango, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Region 12 director, said the results of a recent evaluation made by the regional wage board showed there is no sufficient reason yet to declare a supervening condition in the region in the wake of the series of oil price increases and in the prices of several basic and prime commodities.

A declaration of supervening condition would pave the way for possible salary adjustments in the private sector even though the one-year prescriptive period to review the existing wage order has not lapsed.

Of the 17 RTWPBs in the country, three have already declared a supervening condition – the National Capital Region, CALABARZON and Western Visayas – due to the series of oil price hikes.

Citing data from the Department of Trade and Industry and the National Economic and Development Authority, Tango said the current socio-economic situation in the region has remained stable during the past several months.

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

She said several bus companies and water utility firms have recently increased their rates but their impact is so far considered minimal.

“In fact, the inflation rate or the price movements of our consumer goods have eased off these past months when compared to the same period last year,” said Tango, who chairs the RTWPB-12.

DOLE and the RTWPB-12 initially held consultations in Koronadal City last April 27 with local employers, leaders of organized labor groups, consumers and concerned government organizations to determine the region’s socio-economic status and the possible declaration of a supervening condition.

Another round of consultations was conducted last May 18 in this city and was followed by another evaluation by members of the RTPWB-12.

“Our monitoring is still ongoing and we’ll conduct another round of consultations regarding this matter in the coming weeks,” Tango said.

Private workers in the region received an additional P15 cost of living allowance or Cola starting October 31 last year based on Wage Order XII-16 issued by RTWPB-12.

The new wage order sets the minimum wage rate 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 ten workers. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)