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Highest Western Visayas wage hike approved, mgmt objects

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The Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) approved the highest wage increase so far in Western Visayas on Thursday, Labor Regional Director Sixto Rodriguez Jr. said Friday, May 13.

The daily wage increase for workers in private establishments will range from P55 to P110, he said.

The RTWPB in a separate order also increased the wages of “kasambahays (domestic help)” from P4,000 to P4,500 a month, he added.

The National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC) will review the wage increase in the region before it becomes final, Rodriguez said.

The RTWPB increased the daily wages of employees in private establishments employing 10 workers and below from P310 to P420 or by P110, and for those employing more than 10 workers from P395 to P450 or by P55, Rodriguez said.

It also increased the wages of agricultural workers from P315 to P410, or by P95.

The increases were high because there has been no wage hike in Western Visayas since November 2019, Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said all the members of the RTWPB signed the new wage orders.

They will become final after they are reviewed and approved by the NWPC and after publication, so it is likely to take effect on or before June 12, Rodriguez said.

At the RTWPB hearings, labor groups pushed for a daily minimum wage of from P450 to P750 in Western Visayas, but management asked that any increase be deferred until the third quarter of the year because they have yet to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic that brought “the business sector to its knees”.

The just approved wage increase is like being hit by a super typhoon, very few businesses can afford it, Frank Carbon, vice president for the Visayas of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and chief executive officer of the Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said Friday.

PhilHealth fees have also increased by 3 to 4 percent retroactive to January, Carbon said.

“We are just slowly recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, this will hit like (super typhoon) Yolanda…the timing is wrong, this will further slow down our economic recovery,” he said.

It will make it very difficult for small businesses to get back on their feet, he said.

“The two-year pandemic has brought the business sector to its knees. It resulted to massive business closures, loss of jobs, and practically reduced to the minimum our customers,” Carbon said.

Their situation was further aggravated by the devastation caused by typhoons Odette and Agaton and the rising fuel prices brought about by the Ukraine war, he said.

“We are not yet out of the woods. We are in the middle of a perfect storm. Our recovery is just starting,” Carbon reiterated.

He said they will seek advice from the Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines on remedies that can be taken.

Wennie Sancho, RTWPB 6 labor representative, said they welcome the approved wage increase that is the highest ever granted to labor in Western Visayas, although it is not substantial enough to be called a living wage.

He does not know if management will file an opposition before the NWPC but under the rules of minimum wage fixing their opposition or motion for reconsideration cannot stay the execution of the wage order, especially if it is signed by the labor secretary, Sancho said.

Sancho said he is looking forward to the NWPC’s approval of the rulings of the RTWPB 6.*

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