Wage hike recall sought, labor group slams move

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The labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) slammed the call of employers for the deferment of the minimum wage hike for workers in Western Visayas on Thursday, May 19.

PM is also opposing plans of some businesses to seek exemptions from the wage hike.

The National Wages and Productivity Commission chaired by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III affirmed the P55 to P110 minimum wage increase for Western Visayas, which is expected to take effect on June 5.

The Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry is filing a notice of appeal before the Western Visayas Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) seeking the recall of its Wage Order No. RBVI-26 granting the pay hike, Frank Carbon, MBCCI chief executive officer, said Thursday.

He said they will file their notice of appeal on Friday or Monday (May 20 or 23), and other businesses groups in Negros and Panay are planning to do the same.

“It is adding insult to injury to workers for the regional wage boards to exempt and defer the wage hike as demanded by employers. The minimum wage increases are not even enough to recover the value lost to inflation for the past three years,” Rene Magtubo, PM national chair, said.

If the hikes are deferred and employers exempted then the most vulnerable workers are left with nothing, said Magtubo, who was re-elected as Marikina councilor but grew up in Bacolod.

Magtubo said even small businesses can afford to give their workers a pay increase.

“Wag kayong kuripot (Don’t be stingy). Before the pandemic, businesses, both big and small, accumulated revenues and profit without sharing the productivity gains to their workers,” he said.

Magtubo said from 2001 to 2016, the economy doubled in size and productivity increased by 50 percent but real wages remained stagnant.

“The pie became larger but the slice of workers remained the same. Employers greedily monopolized all the new wealth produced by the blood and sweat of workers,” Magtubo said.

He said the economic slump is not an argument against a pay increase.

“Instead it is a reason to provide money to consumers through a wage hike. Boosting the purchasing power of consumers – especially lowly paid workers who spend most of their take-home pay compared to high income earners -will pump prime the economy and lead to the revival of MSMEs”, Magtubo said.

“The International Labour Organization (ILO), in its Minimum Wage Policy Guide, asserts that exemptions defeat the very purpose of the minimum wage which is to protect the income of the most vulnerable segment of the working class,” Magtubo said.

The RTWPB in Western Visayas 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.

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

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