Workers in Region-12 to get P5 wage hike in 2015

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/02 December) — Private workers in Region 12 will receive an additional P5 increase in their daily wages starting January 1 next year, bringing the area’s floor pay to P275.

Ofelia Domingo, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Region 12 director, said the pay increase represents the P5 additional cost-of-living allowance (COLA) that was set in Wage Order No. RB XII-18 that took effect last August 1.

She said workers in the region received a P10 to P14 increase in their basic minimum wage upon the effectivity of Wage Order No. RB XII-18, with the integration of the COLA provided for in the previous wage order.

“Starting January 1, the daily minimum wage will increase to P275 we’re currently intensifying our monitoring activities to ensure its full compliance in the entire region,” she said in a press conference.

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.

The Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB), which is chaired by Domingo, endorsed the new wage order in June following a series of public consultations.

The board said the new minimum wage rates 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.

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, it said.

Domingo said they have assigned teams to conduct regular compliance visits in various business establishments and employers regarding the new wage order.

She said they were also mandating employers to properly pay the due benefits and incentives or bonuses of their workers, especially the 13th month pay.

“There are really establishments that have not been complying with the new wage rates but we’re closely monitoring them,” she said.

Citing their assessment, the official said one of every 10 business establishments in the entire region is so far not compliant with the wage order.

Aside from the minimum wage violations, she said they monitored a number of employers who were properly providing the mandated benefits of their workers like the overtime pays.

Domingo said that in the month of November, they have issued two compliance orders against two business establishments for payments of due salaries and benefits to their workers that are worth P3 to P4 million.

She said the issuance of compliance orders are among the legal remedies that the agency may use against erring employers.

If the employers would ignore the compliance orders, she said the DOLE regional office may issue writ of execution and garnishment orders for their assets later on.

“We also have the option to file criminal charges against our erring employers but we try to avoid that route. Our approach is developmental and we look into various alternatives to resolve these problems but not at the expense of our workers,” she added. (MindaNews)