New P100 wage hike filed firms lukewarm

03/09/10 - Even before a new P100 wage petition was filed at 9 a.m yesterday, the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board in Central Visayas (RTWPB-7) expects that the companies would oppose it.

“If you look at their body language, they are opposed to it. But we won't use that as the basis but we'll rely on statistics and figures,” said Regional Director Elias Cayanong of the Department of Labor and Employment in Central Visayas (DOLE-7).

In filing the wage petition, TUCP partylist Rep. Raymond Mendoza said it had been two years since the RTWPB approved a wage increase for the region's workers.

The labor goups had sought a P150 across-the-board wage hike but the wage board only approved a P17-increase, raising the minimum wage to P267.

Cayanong, who chairs the board, said they held consultations on a P128 wage petition filed by the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) filed last December.

In filing their petition to increase minimum wage by P100, Mendoza said they used as basis the data from the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).

Of the amount, P19 comes from the seven percent increase in prices between June 2008 and January 2010.

About P24 were based on the projected nine percent increase in Consumer Price Index (CPI) between February to December 2010.

The TUCP is also asking for P21 for the 21 years when there were no increase in real wage.

The remaining P36 is for partial adjustment to match the minimum wage level in the Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon), which has P320 as the minimum wage.

Mendoza said they didn't file a wage increase petition last year since they understood that companies are experiencing difficulties in the wake of the global economic crisis.

Now that the country is recovering, Mendoza said it is only right for workers to seek an increase.

But businessman Eric Ng Mendoza, president of the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) said a P100 wage increase could hurt the workers instead since businesses aren't stable enough to raise wages.

“What's important is to help provide more employment for the people. I think the 100 wage increase, dili na motivating (it's not motivating) to create more jobs and hire more people, Ng-Mendoza said.

Cebu Business Club president Gordon Allan “Dondi” Joseph said increasing wages is unrealistic because it would only aggravate the high cost of doing business in the country.

“The focus should be in ensuring that all companies pay the minimum wage and on increasing and rewarding productivity rather than increasing fixed costs,” Joseph said.

He said salaries are prioritized among the fixed costs listed by companies.

Ng-Mendoza said he's not concerned about the P100 wage increase but rather how to give jobs to the unemployed and those who were retrenched.

“I think the majority of the firms cannot afford. Maybe some can afford but many can afford,” the businessman said.

Cayanong told that while most companies have been recovering, only the construction and call center firms have weathered the crisis.

He said the tourism sector is growing at a slower pace.

He said they have so far consulted the furniture firms and other companies at the Mactan Export Processing Zone (MEPZ) on the wage increase.

More consultations are forthcoming and Cayanong said they would meet on Thursday to take up the TUCP petition.

He said they would hold a public hearing in Cebu and another in either Tagbilaran City in Bohol or in Dumaguete in Negros Oriental sometime soon.

The board will release its ruling 45 days after the hearings. (Cebu Daily News)

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