One more wage board may approve increase

Published by rudy Date posted on April 12, 2011

Manila, Philippines – Another Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) has declared a “supervening condition” that could pave the way for the grant of a salary increase in other areas of the country.

National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC) executive director Ciriaco Lagunzad III said the RTWPB in Western Visayas ruled that a supervening condition exists in the region due to the continuing increase in the prices of petroleum products.

“Oil price hike was primarily the basis for the wage board’s decision to declare a supervening condition in western Visayas,” Lagunzad said.

Under the law, there should be no wage adjustments before July unless there is a supervening condition.

Of the 17 RTWPBs nationwide, Lagunzad said only four have come out with a decision while the rest are still conducting assessment on whether or not there is supervening condition in their respective jurisdictions.

Of the four RTWPBs, Lagunzad said two – the National Capital Region and western Visayas – declared a supervening condition while two others – northern Mindanao and central Visayas – said that there was no extraordinary increase in the prices of essential commodities in their areas.

Lagunzad, however, stressed that non-declaration of supervening condition is not yet final and could still be reversed if the economic situation worsens.

He added that the workers can still file a formal petition for salary increase even if the wage board in their area already ruled that there was no supervening condition.

Few benefits

But Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) president Edgardo Lacson yesterday said it is not right for the wage boards to declare that there is a “supervening condition” that merits an early hike in wages.

“Usually supervening condition is a double digit increase in inflation for a long period of time,” Lacson said in a telephone interview.

In this case, he said inflation is still within the government target of 3 to 5 percent because latest inflation data showed that “we are only at four percent.”

“We acknowledge that there were price increases but it can be addressed by giving non-wage benefits like food, clothing and transportation allowance,” he said.

“A majority of the working class have never been benefited from wage hikes, especially those in the so-called underground economy or informal sector,” Lacson said.

He said a wage increase is inflationary and will further push prices to higher levels.

Of the 37 million workforce, only two million will get an increase but the economic reality is everyone, even those who did not benefit, will be penalized because raising wages has an impact on inflation, Lacson said.

Instead of mandatory salary hike, ECOP called on the government to encourage collective bargaining so workers can freely negotiate with employers who are willing to give relief to them without sacrificing enterprise viability.

Malacañang, meantime, said it is up to the regional wage boards to determine if wages for minimum wage earners should be adjusted in light of the spiraling cost of petroleum products and basic commodities.

“We are governed by regional wage boards, so they determine the level of wage to be increased,” said presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda.

More petitions

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), on the other hand, said they are filing a wage hike petition even in areas where the boards declared the non-existence of supervening condition.

Raffy Mapalo, TUCP official, said they are filing petitions seeking wage increase ranging from P75 to P100 for workers in central Visayas, northern Mindanao, CALABARZON and central Luzon.

Mapalo said TUCP, the largest labor group in the country, welcomes the declaration of supervening condition in Metro Manila and western Visayas and they hope that the deliberation for salary adjustment would not take too long.

But Partido ng Manggagawa said despite impending salary adjustments, workers still face bleak prospects and poor living conditions under the Aquino administration.

Workers belonging to the Koalisyon ng Progresibong Manggagawa at Mamamayan (KPMM) trooped yesterday to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)’s main office in Intramuros to demand a P125 increase in daily take-home pay.

Ibon Foundation, for its part, said substantial salary increase could be given to workers if only employers are willing to accept lower profit in their business.

IBON said the economy has more than enough profits to support the workers’ call for a P125 wage increase if the employers would reduce their profits by 17.3 percent. – With Delon Porcalla, Elisa Osorio –Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star)

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