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MIXED REACTIONS | Region XI’s minimum wage hike draws opposing feedbacks

AS EXPECTED, the adjustment in the minimum wage in the Davao Region has been met with negative reactions for various reasons.

The management groups, on one hand, branded the adjustment, which is a P31-a-day increase split in two, as a misstep because most companies have yet to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On the other side, labor and their allied groups believed that the increase was way below the necessary amount to cover the old difference between the purchasing power of ordinary workers and the mounting increase in the prices of basic commodities.

Stephen A. Antig, executive director of the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association, said the new wage adjustment is a huge burden to companies because it is a “12%  adjustment on the minimum wage.” “What would happen? Most likely companies will reduce their workforce to sustain their operations especially in the agriculture and service sectors,” Antig told TIMES in a text message.

He said this is expected to result in an increase in the unemployment rate in the region.

He said his suggestion was the adjustment “should have been just a bit higher than the inflation rate. Our inflation rate average is just five percent,” he said.

 Agreeing that workers need assistance in the form of wage adjustments, Vicente T. Lao, chair of the Mindanao Business Council, said the wage order is a bit high.

 But former party-list representative Ariel Casilao of Anakpawis said in a statement that the increase is “far from enough” for ordinary workers to cover the adjustments in prices of basic goods.

“Precisely, we proposed the amount of P750 as closest to the daily cost of living,” Casilao said, pointing out that prices of petroleum products have been surging weekly resulting in unwanted increases in basic commodities, both food and non-food.

Casilao’s group and other progressive organizations have been pushing for nationalized wage adjustments on the premise that while prices of basic commodities in the National Capital Region are lower, their daily wages are higher. This scenario is inversely proportionate in the regions where prices of basic goods are higher, but minimum daily wages are lower.

 Under the new adjustment in the region, which the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board bared on Friday after approving it on May 31, the first adjustment P16 will take effect on January 1, 2023, and another P15 increase will follow starting the second quarter of the year.

As a result of the order, workers in non-agriculture, industrial/commercial, and retail sectors employing more than 10 workers will receive a daily minimum wage of P443 at the full implementation of the new order, while those in the agriculture will receive P5 less.  

A provision in the wage order also put all industries not in agriculture under one category unlike before when companies that employ less than 10 workers were ordered to pay P10 lesser as this was based on the Omnibus Rules on Minimum Wage Determination which the National Productivity Wage Commission issued in 2020.

However, under the new rules, those that have at most 10 workers and the ones impacted by calamities can still seek exemption from new wage orders.

Based on the signatories of the order, which was published on the Facebook page of the board, the labor sector was represented by just one, Virginia Camus, instead of two, while there were two representatives of the management sector and three from the government.

The order was the result of petitions from two groups: the United Pantaron Banana Workers Union-Association of Democratic Labor Organization-Kilusang Mayo Uno which sought a P100 increase in daily minimum wages in April 2021, and the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines petition which was asking for a P418 wage adjustment.

In deciding to adjust the minimum wages, the board cited the increase in the consumer price index from 101.3 in August 2018 to 113.4 in April 2022, as well as the poverty threshold for a family of five at P11,103 in the first semester of 2021 based on the Philippine Statistics Authority.



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