Minimum wages in Southwestern Mindanao frozen

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/16 February) — Minimum wage earners in Southwestern Mindanao will have to wait for another month to know if their salary rates would be adjusted.

This after the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) did not issue a decision during their meeting last Wednesday regarding the minimum wages of private sector workers in the region.

Chona Mantilla, newly installed regional director of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), said the board members have agreed to defer the matter late in March.

“There will be a new round of meetings on March 27 and 28 that will determine the steps we would take in as far as the minimum wage rates of private sector workers are concerned,” she said.

Early next month, Mantilla said they are slated to attend a National Wages and Productivity Commission conference in Davao City, which might help them address the wage condition in Region 12.

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

So far, no labor groups have formally filed a petition with the wage board seeking an adjustment in salaries.

Early this week, Jessie Dela Cruz, RTWPB secretary, told reporters that prices of basic consumer goods across the region have generally stayed the same in the past few months.

“Based on the [recent] consultation[s], prices of basic consumer goods have not moved except for a few, which may not be enough to warrant an increase in minimum wages [in the private sector],” he said.

The results of the public consultations were presented during last Wednesday’s RTWPB meeting here.

These consultations were held last January 25 and 26, in the cities of General Santos and Kidapawan, respectively,

Dela Cruz said data earlier presented by the regional offices of the National Economic and Development Authority and the Department of Trade and Industry, among others, “show no reasons” to increase the minimum wage in the area.

The NEDA report in particular states that prices of consumer goods have remained stable across the region, Dela Cruz said.

He admitted that prices of fuel products in the region have gone up, but claimed that “it was not an enough supervening condition” to adjust the salaries of workers since there are also oil price roll backs.

The wage order in effect for Region 12 was issued on October 31, 2010. Under the law, it has a life of one year but can be altered within such period if a supervening condition exists.

Based on Wage Order XII-16, the minimum daily wage rates in the region 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 business sector in the region have pressed for a status quo on any salary adjustment, while militant groups have called for a legislated P125 across-the-board daily wage increase. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)