SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/04 March) – A leader of the militant Kilusang Mayo Uno in Caraga Region said it isn’t true that the entire labor sector in Surigao is not keen on demanding a wage increase this year as declared by a member of the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board.
Jake Miranda, private sector representative to the RTWPB said during the board’s road show consultation last Feb. 25 that no labor groups in the two Surigao provinces filed a petition for a wage hike.
“I think this is the first time that the labor sector did not file a petition. We were expecting the usual debate when we arrived at the meeting, but we didn’t,” he said.
But KMU regional chair Edwin Batac of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) said he only received the invitation to the consultation on February 28. “Amo raman lipat lipat ini ila,” he said. (This is like a deception on their part).
Batac said that had he attended the consultation he would have told the RTWPB body it is impossible not to have petitions for a wage increase especially from minimum wage earners.
“The DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) already knows that. Government agencies know (that life is difficult nowadays),” he said.
“If there is no [petition for a] wage increase, it does not mean that we will not call for an increase. We will call for it,” he said.
Batac also disagreed with the proposal to include “privileges” like meals and board and lodging as part of the minimum wage.
“The law is clear that privileges and benefits don’t form part of the minimum daily wage,” he said.
Miranda said during the final leg of the roadshow in Butuan City on March 31 the Surigao Chamber and Bislig will present a proposal that seeks to compute certain privileges enjoyed by the workers as part of the daily minimum wage.
Batac reiterated KMU’s call for the dissolution of the RTWPB saying it has not served the interests of workers.
Genebelle B. Bal, DOLE Field Office head for Surigao del Norte said they have not received a petition for a wage increase.
Petitions for increase in daily minimum wage are usually submitted to the RTWPB, although some would land at the labor department.
Caraga Region has a minimum wage rate of P258 based on Wage Order 11-b issued in November 2011 and which expired in November 2012.
Majority of the businesses in this city are categorized as medium or small-medium enterprises, which Miranda admitted, can hardly comply with the minimum wage rate.
Celestino Negapatan, Department of Trade and Industry provincial director said that during the roadshow the labor representatives mainly complained about the rising cost of fish and other marine products in the city.
“I think they see that if we will just stabilize the prices this will even out the existing wage rate,” he said. (Vanessa Almeda/MindaNews)