Business and sugar leaders yesterday called the new wage hike timely for workers, while a labor group said it won’t lift them out of poverty.
The Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board approved daily minimum wage increases ranging from P13.50 to P41.50 in the Western Visayas, RTWPB Chair and Department of Labor and Employment Regional Director Johnson Cañete announced Monday.
“We are a little bit elated, the wage increase will increase money in circulation that, in turn, will increase sales and revenues,” Frank Carbon, chief executive officer of the Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said.
He said government can help prop up the increase in wages by reducing the income tax imposed on businesses under phase two of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law from 30 to 25 percent, which could bedone all at once, or in phases.
But Carbon also expressed concern that while the wage increase may be more viable for businesses in bigger cities,it may be difficult for those in third and fourth class municipalities.
Small businesses in those areas can ask to be classified as barangay micro business enterprises, as these are exempted from the minimum wage and income tax for next three years, Carbon said.
“The wage increase is timely for our workers, because it will help them cope with the recent increases in prices of prime commodities. We will comply with the latest wage order,” Enrique Rojas, president of the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters, said.
“Hopefully, sugar prices in the next crop year will be kinder to our farmers, so that we can afford to shoulder our responsibility to give just wages to our workers,” he added.
This crop year, prices were almost at break-even level, he said. Sugar prices increased only after most mills had stopped operations, while all the sugar was already in the hands of traders, Rojas said.
Meanwhile, organized labor branded the wage orders released separately by the RTWPBs of Regions 6 (Western Visayas) and 7 (Central Visayas) as too small to address the current needs of workers, a pressrelease posted on the Philippine News Agency website said.
The usually moderate Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) said in a statement yesterday that “the new wage increase rates released by the wage boards in Regions 6 and 7 does not lift workers out of the extreme poverty level.”
“It is also bound to create more poverty problems caused by migration of workers and their families, particularly with the segmentation of wage rates in Western Visayas,” ALU-TUCP spokesman Alan Tanjusay added.
The Region 6 wage board approved a P41.50 a day wage increase for non-agricultural workers. But those working for companies with less than 10 employees will only receive a P23.50/day pay hike. Agricultural workers in this region were only granted a P13.50 increase in their daily pay.
The Region 7 wage board approved a P20/day wage hike for those employed in Class A cities and municipalities while those in Class B, C and D areas will receive only P15/day.
Tanjusay said the granting of segmented wage rates, and the two RTWPBs will create pressure on workers in poorer communities to migrate to more prosperous cities in hopes of landing jobs with higher pay. This, he added, will further exacerbate the problem of overpopulation in places such as Metro Manila.
“With these wage orders, the wage boards highly favored the employers sector and created more problems than solutions,” Tanjusay added.*CPG/PNA
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