More than a week ago, the Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity Board-Department of Labor and Employment-Cordillera (RTWPB-DOLE-CAR) granted workers in the region an P8.00 raise in the daily minimum wage to now make it P280/day for the non-agricultural workers in Baguio City, La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, and Tuba (BLIST), and P262 for agricultural workers.
The minimum wage for non-agricultural workers in the rest of the region will be P263, and P246 for workers in the agriculture sector.
RTWPB-DOLE-CAR wage order number 15 also retains the provisions of wage order no. 14 granting a P22 to P37 Cost of Living Allowance (COLA).
The order however, was met with dismay by various organized labor groups especially the unions who consistently call for a substantial legislated wage hike.
As early as August of 1999, the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) campaigned for a P125 wage increase-across the board-nationwide. In 2001, the late Bayan Muna Representative Crispin Beltran proposed for the legislation of a P125 wage increase. On September 2003, Beltran, then representative of the Anakpawis Party List, with other partylist house representatives Bayan Muna and Gabriela Party List filed House Bill 1063 while Zamboanga del Norte 2nd district representative Rosseler Barinaga filed HB 345 for the same wage amount. And again on September 2008, now Anakpawis representative Rafael Mariano filed HB 375 for the same legislation of a P125 wage increase.
It shows that the call for a legislated P125 wage increase was denied by two administrations in the past 11 years, both claimed the local economy can not support a P125 wage increase. The present Aquino administration also claims that approving it will result to the closure of business establishments.
On the contrary, researches made by the Ibon Foundation revealed the P125 increase is but 12% of their profits and therefore employers then and now can afford or give the increase.
Also, the 2009 Annual Survey of Philippine Business and Industry (ASPBI) of the National Statistics Office showed that the accumulated profit of all establishments in the country amounted to P1,629.5 Billion and a total number of employees of 3.94 million.
Based on these figures the P125 wage increase if granted would cost the employers some P49,427 per employee per year or a total of P194.9 billion. The employers would still have P1,434.6 billion net in profit.
Based on the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) the actual daily cost of living here in the region is P570. Ibon Foundation computations however show that a family of five requires at least P941 per day in the Cordillera, and P993 for the National Capital Region to support a decent living. Apparently P280 per day in wages is a far cry from decent.
Especially for the National Capital Region, where P426 minimum wage according to Ibon Foundation is just 43% of the decent and necessary P993 a day wage as of 2011. Even with the recent P30 increase it is still not enough.
The benefits of a legislated wage hike is clear, not only for the workers and their families but very much also for the country’s economy as well. This “large” legislated wage hike would increase the buying power of nearly four million households and it will greatly stimulate the economy. Making mince meat out of the workers’ just and legitimate wages can only stir and add resentment to the existing and imposed conditions of poverty. # nordis.net