No petition yet for wage increase in Region 12

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/3 Nov) – No labor group in Southwestern Mindanao has so far filed a petition for wage increase despite the lapse of the one-year prescriptive period, an official from the regional office of the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) said on Thursday.

Jessie dela Cruz, Regional Tripartite Wages and productivity Board (RTWPB) secretary, said the one-year ban for the filing of a wage increase petition in the private sector has expired last October 31.

“But the wage board is closely monitoring the situation [for a possible wage increase],” he told MindaNews.

Dela Cruz disclosed the wage board members are set to meet next week to assess anew the economic situation in the region.

He said the wage board welcomes petitions from labor groups asking for salary adjustment.

But so far, he maintained that there “is no reason” that would warrant the declaration of a supervening condition by the board, which would allow the review of the existing wage order, despite the increasing prices of fuel products and other consumer goods starting several months ago.

Under labor laws, if there will be no petition from labor groups to increase the wage rates after the one-year expiration, the RTWPB can review it moto propio, or on its own.

Dela Cruz said the latest available inflation rate in the region, based on a review conducted last August, actually dipped, from 5.7 percent in July to 5.1 percent in August.

He also noted that the consumer price index in Region 12 for the period in review stood at 6.1 percent, a few points down from the national average of 6.9 percent.

New data was expected for presentation during next week’s meeting of the wage board.

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

Ma. Gloria Tango, DOLE-12 regional director, said earlier that with the lapse of the one-year wage order, private sector workers’ “wages may be adjusted.”

On October 31, 2010, the RTWPB approved Wage Order XII-16 that directed a two-tranche daily cost of living allowance (COLA) increase in the salaries in the private sector worth P15. The additional P10 COLA took effect right after the approval and the remaining P5 last April 1.

With the inclusion of the COLA, the new minimum daily wage rates in the region now stands at P260 for non-agriculture workers, P240 for plantation workers, P235 for non-plantation workers, P240 for retail/service establishments employing not more than 10 workers and P234 for retail/service establishments employing less than 10 people.

The Regional Development Council, in a bid to improve employers’ compliance to the wage rates, earlier called on the posting of the rates in giant billboards in strategic places across the region.

Tango said the compliance of employers in the region on the proper wage rates was on a downtrend, pegging it at 72.40 percent in 2010 and 67.15 percent in the first semester of 2011.

The business sector in the region maintained they would prefer a status quo as salary increases would be an “additional burden to employers.” (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)