DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Two years after the last adjustment in the minimum wage in the region, workers will get a P23 to P29 minimum wage increase depending on the sector and industry effective December 16.

The Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board in Region 11 approved Wage Order No RB XI-19 setting the new minimum wage of workers in non-agriculture/industrial/commercial and retail/service employing more than 10 workers at P340. The current minimum wage is P317 with P5 cost of living allowance (COLA).

For workers in agriculture, there will be a P28 increase from the current P307 inclusive of P5 COLA to P335.

In a phone interview, Department of Labor and Employment Regional Director Atty. Joffrey Suyao, said on May 1, 2017 the P5 COLA will be integrated to the minimum wage.

Meanwhile, for those in the retail/service with less than 10 workers, the wage increase will be P29 from the current P286, inclusive of P5 COLA to P310. Starting May 1 next year, the new minimum wage for with COLA integration this sector will be P325.

The last minimum wage increase took effect on December 1, 2014.

Suyao, who serves as the chairman of the RTWPB-11, said they are glad that the deliberations of the wage hike went smoothly.

“We conducted public hearings starting October 17 and after 30 days we have agreed upon the new wage order,” Suyao said.

“Our basis of the wage order is to restore the lost purchasing power of the wage earners for them to cope up with the rising cost of living,” he said.

He said it was needed to raise the minimum wage to the level of the poverty threshold.

But is the wage increase enough?

Suyao said the minimum wage will not suffice if one does not consider his budget. He said that the minimum wage set only covers basic needs.

However, Carlo Olalo spokesperson of Kilusang Mayo Uno in Southern Mindanao Region described the increase as “sinsilyo lang” (loose change).

“We are dismayed that after President Rodrigo Duterte pronounced that he wants equal wages in Manila and the provinces, this is what the wage board has come up with,” said Olalo.

He said the current wage hike is not enough to address the needs of the workers.

“It’s too far from the P1,090 living wage in the national capital, which is closely similar here in the region,” he said citing data from think tank Ibon Foundation.

“A worker in Davao region should earn almost a P1,000 because of the rising cost of commodities,” he said.

Olalo said the P340 daily minimum wage is not even enough to buy decent food for a family with five members.

“It seems the government approved the token wage increase only to appease the workers’ call to increase the wage,” he added.

Despite the salary hike, Olalo said they will continue their call for the government to implement P750 national minimum wage.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Duterte ordered the DOLE to study the possibility of equalizing minimum wage for workers in Manila and provinces.

However, Bello said the proposal to have a national minimum wage should be carefully studied as “every region has its own social-economic condition.”

The wage order was approved on November 4 and published on Thursday, Dec. 1. The order will take effect 15 days after publication. (davaotoday.com)

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