P5 wage hike in Region 12 starts next month

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/15 July) — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Region 12 is targeting the implementation later next month of a new regional wage order that grants a P5 increase in the minimum daily wages of private workers in the area.

Ofelia Domingo, DOLE Region 12 director, said Tuesday they are currently waiting for the final approval and signing by Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz of Wage Order No. RB XII-18, which was endorsed by the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) last June 4.

She said they are also working on the issuance of the implementing rules and regulations for the new wage order, which will take effect 15 days after its publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the area.

Also known as Soccsksargen, Region 12 comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

“It’s now lined up for signing (by Sec. Baldoz) and after that we will proceed with its publication,” Domingo said in a radio interview.

Under the new wage order, private workers in the region will mainly receive an additional P5 in their cost-of-living allowance (COLA), the National Wages and Productivity Commission said in a statement.

Upon its effectivity, it said the P10 to P14 COLA set under the previous wage order will be integrated into the basic wage while an additional COLA of P5 will be given starting January 1, 2015.

“The new minimum wage rates shall apply to all minimum wage earners in the region regardless of position, designation or status, and irrespective of the method by which their wages are paid,” the agency said.

It noted that the new wage order reduced the number of minimum wage levels in the region from five to three, with workers in the non-agriculture receiving a daily pay of P275, agriculture with P257 and retail/service establishments with P255.

The RTWPB-12 has exempted from the new wage order all establishments that have total assets of less than P3 million, are not registered as Barangay Micro Business Enterprises, distressed establishments and those adversely affected by calamities such as natural and human-induced disasters, the agency added.

Domingo, who also chairs the RTWPB-12, said the issuance of the new wage order was based on the series of public consultations that they earlier conducted in the region.

The regional wage board is composed of two representatives each from the employers and workers sectors; the regional directors of DOLE, National Economic and Development Authority and the Department of Trade and Industry; and, another DOLE official who acts as its secretary.

The official said the board decided to launch the consultations after deciding motu propio to review the basic wage rates even without any petition from organized labor groups in the area.

She said the results of the consultations and studies conducted by the board on the area’s socio-economic condition showed that there is a need to increase the minimum wages of local private workers.

Owing to the looming wage increase, Domingo urged local private workers to focus on further increasing their productivity.

“We should help our companies improve in terms of performance and productivity since these are among the basis for the issuance of the new wage order,” she said.

For employers, she said they should properly implement the provisions of the area’s wage orders and provide their workers with ideal working environments. (MindaNews)