Central Visayas wage board votes 3-2 to start deliberations
An increase in the minimum wage for Central Visayas may be granted before Christmas.
The door was opened yesterday by the wage board for an earlier-than-usual hike in the minimum wage for private sector workers, which is currently P285 to P305 in Metro Cebu.
Voting 3 to 2, the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board approved a resolution declaring that a “supervening condition” exists to merit discussion for an increase in the floor wage of private sector workers without waiting for the lapse of one year from the last wage order.
The wage board's last Wage Order No. 16 granting a P20 increase was issued in Sept. 22, 2011.
“This means that we can now proceed with deliberation of the two pending petitions for a wage increase,” said wage board chairperson Gloria Tango, regional director of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE-7).
A higher floor wage would directly benefit factory and farm workers, sales attendants, security guards, clerks, drivers, construction laborers and entry-level employees, among others.
It could also cause distortions in pay scales of higher positions in an organization. The business sector generally opposes a floor wage hike, saying this would trigger higher operation costs and make business less competitive.
Tango broke a tie vote of 2-2 in yesterday's meeting in favor of the declaration.
Tango cited economic conditions in the region for her vote: the increase in inflation rate from 5 percent percent in May to around 6 percent in July and the rising consumer price index (CPI), which shows that the purchasing power of consumers has weakened.
She said these two major factors convinced her to vote in favor of the declaration lobbied by the labor sector.
Ernesto Carreon, one of two labor sector representatives in the seven-member wage board, said he and Jose Tomongha of the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), would do their best to convince peers to come up with a new wage order in the first week of October.
Two board members were absent in yesterday's regular meeting – management representative Charles Streegan and government representative Asteria Caberte of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI 7).
This emboldened the two labor sector representatives - Carreon of the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) and Tomongha - to move for a vote.
Those who voted against the declaration were Regional Director Buenaventura Go-Soco Jr. of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA 7) representing the government sector and lawyer Hidelito Pascual for the management sector.
A P90 daily increase is being sought by the ALU-TUCP. A second petition for P121.84 increase was filed by the APL.
While labor groups start out with high demands, deliberations usually end with a much smaller figure of P5 to P20 based on the track record of the regional wage board.
The next step is for the board's resolution declaring a supervening condition to be sent to the National Wages Productivity Commission (NWPC) in Manila for affirmation before public hearings are held.
In the next August 23 wage board meeting, members will decide whether to hold separate public hearings in four provinces of Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental and Siquijor, or just one public hearing as well as the venue.
All stakeholders including different workers groups and business groups will be invited.
After the last public hearing, the board has 30 days to deliberate.
During the meeting yesterday, Carreon moved to decide on a pending motion, which was first raised last May, to that declare a supervening condition exists to justify entertaining two petitions for wage increase.
Carreon said there was enough basis to act with the release of the National Statistics Office report that showed an increase in inflation from 4 percent in May to 6.1 percent in the month of July.
He said the Consumer Price Index also reached 130 percent which showed that prices of basic goods were rising.
He said Pascual, the management representative, wanted to wait for September when the one-year period from the last issuance of the wage order would lapse so the board can act on the two wage petitions by then and not have to declare a supervening condition.
But Carreon said he reasoned out that if the board waits for September, public hearings would be conducted in October and the board would decide on the petitions by November or December.
However, if they declare the supervening condition now, they can hold the public hearing early and decide the issue by September or October.
If the management is willing to give an increase, why not give it early instead of waiting for several months, he said.
The Neda representative also wanted to defer voting due to the absence of two board members from the government and management sector.
But the two labor representatives wouldn't agree, so a vote was called.
The result was 2-2 with both labor representatives voting “yes” and Go-Soco and Pascual voted No.
The DOLE chairperson broke the tie. /Jhunnex Napallacan, Correspondent with a report from Correspondent Carine Asutilla