CEBU, Philippines – The National Wages and Productivity Commision approved on Monday, May 30, the proposed P31 minimum wage increase in Central Visayas.
The current daily minimum wage in the region ranges from P351 to P404. With Wage Order No. ROVII-23, this range would now be between P382 to P435, depending on industry.
The increase will take effect on Tuesday, June 14.
According to lawyer Evita Mendoza-Balane, OIC board secretary of RTWPB-7 (Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board-Region 7), this is the first time they have approved an increase this big in 33 years.
“This is the highest amount we have issued in Region 7 in 33 years. The highest previously was P25 in 1989,” Balane said in a previous interview on Wednesday, May 25.
However, some labor groups in the region claim that this increase is still not enough to provide for basic necessities, considering the rising cost of goods due to inflation.
Alyansa sa mga Mamumuo sa Sugbo-Kilusang Mayo Uno (AMA Sugbo-KMU) called it an “insult to workers,” pointing out in a statement on their Facebook page how the P31 increase was very far from the P55 and P110 increase being implemented in Western Visayas.
On May 20, the RTWPB in Western Visayas issued Wage Order No. RBVI-26, granting a P55 increase for non-agricultural businesses with more than 10 workers and a P110 raise for those with less.
“Buot ipasabot sa atong wage board, mas barato diay ang palaliton diri sa Cebu kumpara sa Western Visayas? Dako kini nga insulto sa mga mamumuo nga nakahibaw sa tinuod nga presyo ug sa ka mahal sa mga palaliton diri sa rehiyon nga dili na paigo ang minimum wage,” said Jaime Paglinawan, chairperson of AMA Sugbo-KMU.
(Does our wage board mean to say that basic goods are cheaper here in Cebu than in Western Visayas? This is a huge insult to the workers who know the real prices and the expensiveness of consumer goods here in the region, so much so that the minimum wage is not enough.)
“The P404 is already lower than the poverty threshold and while we don’t want to use the term ‘poor’, this is still ‘poorer than poor’,” ALU-TUCP Spokesperson Niño Torrevillas said in an interview on Wednesday, May 25.
Torrevillas explained that with the current price hikes in basic commodities, which include utilities and transport fares, a minimum wage earner with a family of five would only be able to use P15 out of the P435 for food.
According to him, ALU-TUCP will attempt to open a dialogue with the RTWPB-7 to show them the insufficiency of the approved P31 increase. Earlier in March, ALU-TUCP petitioned for a P430 increase.
“If you’ve been following the petitions, there were many reasons presented like the increase of the inflation, the purchasing power of the peso, etc. All these factors were taken into consideration,” said Balane.
Balane explained that the board came up with the amount based on factors like the poverty threshold, consumer price index, and inflation rate, among others.
She added that negotiations and consultations were also made among the labor sector, management, and government agencies concerned before the board finally approved the amount.
Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Kenneth Co said in a text to Rappler that he believes the amount was a “fair increase.”
“I believe it’s a fair increase. It was higher than we expected but our workers also need it,” Co said.
He said that keeping up with the additional costs would be a matter of increasing productivity so that they would not have to let go of any workers. – Rappler.com