Wage board grants pay hike in E.Visayas

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TACLOBAN CITY: The Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) in Eastern Visayas has granted a P14.50-increase in the daily salary of sugar industry non-plantation workers and integrate the existing P15 cost-of-living allowance (COLA) into the basic wage for all sectors.

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The board has issued Wage Order No. 18 on Tuesday afternoon that seeks to eliminate wage rates that are below the poverty daily threshold.

“We adjusted the pay of non-plantation sugar industry workers from P220.50 to P235 to raise the capacity of low-income workers to buy their basic needs. We cannot deny that their income is very low,” RTWPB chairman and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Regional Director Elias Cayanong told reporters.

Sugar plantation is concentrated in the western part of Leyte with about 14,000 workers, according to DOLE.

Under Wage Order No. 18, which is up for approval by the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC), the RTWPB ruled that P15 COLA under Wage Order No. 16 issued in May 2011 will be added to the basic pay.

Workers can still receive a P7 daily COLA under Wage Order No. 17 issued in October 2012.

The non-adjustment of basic pay for other sectors heeds the employers’ group demand for a status quo on the wage structure in the region due to impacts of natural calamities.

The wage body has called on financially distressed retail and services establishments employing less than 10 workers to “negotiate to determine their own wage level.”

“For the small retail and services sector, where 90 percent of our establishments are under that category, the P15 COLA was also integrated to the existing daily minimum wage of P229,” said RTWPB Secretary Florencio Aguilos.

Workers in the non-plantation of sugar industry and small retail and services are the least income earners covered by the minimum wage law with a daily pay of P220.50 and P229, respectively under Wage Order No. 17.

With the adjustment, the minimum wage in Eastern Visayas now ranges from P235 to P260 across sectors.

The wage body has not received any petition for adjustment from workers group, but they initiated the conduct of public consultation and hearing “motu proprio.”

The RTWPB presented today the final draft of their board’s decision to the NWPC. The national wage body will review the decision for a week. After the approval, the regional board will publish their decision in a local newspaper and it will take effect after 15 days.

PNA

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