P10 wage hike measly and an insult, say Western Visayas labor groups
ILOILO CITY—Labor groups in Western Visayas have decried the mandated P10 increase in the daily minimum wage in the region as “measly and a big insult.”
“It is too painful to think that executives of the [Social Security System] each got a P1-million bonus or that several legislators and their cohorts pocketed at least P10 billion of pork barrel funds, while workers get P10 per day,” said Elmer Forro, regional coordinator of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU).
Forro said the increase, which would raise the minimum wage in the region to P287, did not narrow the gap between the income of workers and the estimated P1,300 daily cost of living for a family of six.
He said the income of workers had continued to drop due to price increases of basic commodities and services, resulting from the increase in oil prices reaching at least P5 per liter since May this year.
In its wage order, the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) 6 raised the daily minimum wage of workers employed in nonagriculture, industrial and commercial establishments employing more than 10 people to P287. Those employed in firms employing less than 10 workers would receive P245 daily.
The wage order also raised the minimum daily wages of plantation workers to P255 while those employed in nonplantation jobs would get P245.
Wennie Sancho, one of the labor representatives to the RTWPB 6, said the increase was “not even enough for a round trip jeepney fare.”
Sancho said he voted to pass the wage order issued last week because the two labor representatives of the board would be outvoted again as well as for the sake of unorganized workers.
“In principle, we oppose the P10 increase because this was below the petition for an increase (amounting to P96.35 to P113.57 per day),” he said.
Business firms in Iloilo also lamented the increase but said they would abide by the order.
“The increase is similar to that implemented in the National Capital Region. We had hoped that the increase would not go beyond P5 per day so as not to hurt the small businesses, which comprise the bulk of our members,” said Maria Lea Victoria Lara, executive director of the Iloilo Business Club.
Lara said studies on the impact of wage increases on various industries should be conducted, and wage adjustments implemented variably depending on the type of business.
The labor groups are calling for the abolition of the regional wage boards.
“The wage boards have not provided adequate wage adjustments for workers,” Sancho said.
Forro said KMU had long called for the scrapping of the wage boards because they had become “a tool to freeze the wage levels.”
KMU is pushing for the passage of a bill in Congress mandating a nationwide across-the-board increase of P125 in the daily minimum wage. The bill had been pending for at least 15 years, according to Forro.