Groups laud, slam P30 wage hike

(DG file)

By: Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – The General Alliance of Workers’ Associations (GAWA), a local labor rights group, here welcomed the decision of the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) to increase daily wages in Western Visayas.

GAWA secretary-general Wennie Sancho said even though the increase is not that high and substantial, it will give relief to workers in the region.

Based on the RTWPB’s latest wage order, the daily minimum rate of workers employed in non-agriculture/industrial/commercial with more than 10 workers is set at P395, up by P30 from P365. Firms with 10 workers and less will increase daily wages from P295 to P310.

For the agriculture sector, the new daily minimum wage is at P315 from the current P295.

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)-6 Regional Director Cyril Ticao said on Tuesday that Wage Order 25 will be submitted to the National Wages and Productivity Commission for approval and will likely take effect in November 2019.

Ticao said that the board conducted public hearings on the petition filed by the New Independent Workers Organization (NIWO) based in Negros Occidental this July.

The original petition sought a P60 increase for non-agriculture/industrial/commercial with more than 10 workers and P50 for firms with 10 workers and in the agricultural sector.

The original proposal for Boracay island workers was an P80 hike.

The last time Western Visayas imposed a daily wage hike was in 2018.

But Bayan Panay denounced the newly approved increase as paltry.

In a statement, Bayan Panay secretary general Elmer Forro said the increase “cannot even buy a kilo of rice.”

“Worst, to those with P15 increase, it cannot even pay your one-way back-to-back trip within 4 kilometers minimum distance without shelling out P2 more. A kilo of regular well-milled rice now costs P45-50,” Forro said.

Bayan added that a family of six needs a daily living wage of P1,400 to live a decent living and P395 is only 28% of that amount.

The groups also stressed that the wage increase and workers’ wages, in general, are nothing compared to the wealth accumulated by their employers like Sy siblings of SM (US$17.2B), Manny Villar of Vista Mall and many real-estates (US$6.6B), Andrew Tan of Megaworld (US$2.55B), among others.

“Just like previous increases, this is an outright disrespect and insult to the long-standing call of our workers for a P750 national minimum wage.”

Forro said workers have long demanded the government to dismantle the RTWPB and do away with the regionalization of wages.

“Instead, it should implement a national minimum wage standard that will at least alleviate the living conditions of workers. This is a small step towards giving just cost to the labor they provide for the economy. At least, the P750 is closer to P1,400 family living wage.”