DoLE official sees need to adjust minimum wage
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – A ranking labor official has admitted the need to adjust minimum wages amid the rising cost of living.
Joffrey Suyao, director of the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) in the region, said “there is now a need to adjust the minimum wage in the region.”
But Suyao, also the head of the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board for Southern Mindanao, said they could not recommend an increase until after a review of past wage orders.
Suyao said the regional wage board has been holding public hearings to review wage order No. 17 issued in 2012 yet.
The wage order only granted an additional P15 in the Cost of Living Allowance (Cola) for all wage earners in the region. There was no actual increase in their basic pay.
Currently, the basic pay for workers in the four Davao provinces and Compostela Valley is P286 per day for those in non-agriculture, retail or service sectors employing more than 10 workers; P276 per day for those in the agriculture sector; and, P255 per day for those in the retail or service sectors employing not more than 10 workers.
Militant groups in the region wanted P125 across-the-board increase.
“A P125 across-the-board wage increase is economic suicide. The agriculture sector has yet to recover from Typhoon Pablo and rehabilitation is still ongoing,” Bonifacio Tan of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said.
Tan said the climate has been unkind to other businesses as well.
He said any increase would be inappropriate at this time. “It is untimely,” he said, citing the power outages.
John Gaisano, speaking for the retailers group in the city, even labeled proposed salary increases as “outrageous.”
He criticized the government for “always focusing on salary increase but not on creating jobs through business growth.”
But labor leader Antonio Tuberia said they could understand the position of those affected by typhoon “Pablo” but not the position of businesses outside devastated areas.
Tuberia said business groups have been mouthing the same line every time wage orders during wage reviews.
“We never heard the management supporting a wage increase,” he lamented.
Tuberia said the management group should recognize that workers help their companies grow and it would only be proper to repay them by giving them fair wages.
“The minimum wage workers are receiving now is not enough for a family of six. Even an increase could not address a worker’s daily needs,” he said.
Southern Mindanao is composed of the provinces of Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental, and Davao Occidental, and Davao City, the regional capital.
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