NorthMin workers get P20 ‘adjustment’; ‘2 cents’ worth – labor lawyer

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 13 June) – The Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board issued a wage order providing for a P20 adjustment in the minimum wage for workers in Northern Mindanao to be effective on June 20, an increase that a labor lawyer called was only “2 cents” worth.

The seven-member wages and productivity board – with representatives from the government, the business community and the labor sector – ordered that that P10 will be added to the worker’s basic pay and another P10 as cost of living allowance (COLA).

Wage Order No. 17, signed by all members, recognized that the move is only an “adjustment” as they balanced the “needs of workers to cope with the standard of living” and “the capacity of employers … without affecting business viability.”

The board added that by January 2014, the P10 COLA will be integrated to the basic wage.

But a labor lawyer, Jay Albarece, who was elected as provincial board member of Bukidnon for another term, said the adjustment is just to align the wages with the increase in prices of goods, or what is called inflation.

He said that with inflation, P20 in 2011 is now worth only P19.98. “So the P20 increase is just enough to offset the cut in purchasing power. If we talk of increase, we only have 2 cents (from this order),” he added.

Albarece, who was one of the lawyers of the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) before election as board member in 2010, said they are checking if the order can still be appealed.

“The workers should get a fair share of the progress,” he added.

The ALU-TUCP asked for an P88 across-the-board wage increase in consultations for the wage order in April.

Wage Order No. 16, issued in 2011, provided for only P17 cost of living allowance, which has already been integrated in the minimum wage.

The new wage rates in non-agriculture and agriculture areas, respectively, in Northern Mindanao will be as follows:

Wage Category I – P306 and P294 per day covering the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, and the municipalities of Tagoloan, Villanueva and Jasaan; Wage Category II – P301 and P289 per day covering the cities of Malaybalay, Valencia, Gingoog, El Salvador and Ozamiz, and the municipalities of Maramag, Quezon and Manolo Fortich; Wage Category III – P296 and P284 per day covering the cities of Oroquieta and Tangub, and the municipalities of Lugait, Opol and Mambajao; Wage Category IV – P291 and P279 per day covering all other areas not covered under the above categories.

The RTWPB said in its website that the new minimum wage of Northern Mindanao covers all types of workers in the minimum wage category in the private sector, regardless of position, designation or status of employment and irrespective of payment scheme.

The board added that the order covers workers paid on piecework, “takay”, “pakyaw” or task basis with work time of not less than eight hours or a proportionate rate of the actual hours worked.

The order also stressed on productivity-based wages.