Negros Occ. workers hit P7 Ecola

Published by rudy Date posted on May 21, 2011

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines—Management groups in Negros Occidental offered a P7 Emergency Cost of Living Allowance (Ecola) for minimum-wage earners during a hearing of the regional wage board held Friday morning.

However, the Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Bacolod Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry also requested that once the political unrest in the Middle East has stopped and oil prices have stabilized, the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) should convene immediately and review if there was still a need to continue giving the Ecola to workers.

But Wennie Sancho, labor representative to RTWPB, decried the offer, which he described as “measly.”

“It is disgusting, just like their counterparts in Panay and Manila, management in Negros Occidental is only confirming the degradation of workers by offering such measly amounts,” Sancho said after the wage board meeting.

“I am very pessimistic, it looks like the lowest amount will be approved by the wage board,” he said.

At an RTWPB hearing in Iloilo on Wednesday, Iloilo business groups offered an Ecola of P8 and Aklan businessmen offered a P5 Ecola, Labor Regional Director Manuel Roldan said.

The offer was slammed by labor groups who were expected to stage protests at today’s hearing in Bacolod City.

Kilusang Mayo Uno Negros spokesperson Ronald Ian Evidente on Friday said the management’s offer was not only an insult to the workers, it also showed that they treat the working class like slaves.

“The proposal for an P8 Ecola is counter to the wage increase demand of the workers (and) is an act of greediness. An Ecola and a wage increase are entirely different. The RTWPB again proves that it is inutile because it only serves the interest of capitalists and landlords and not of the poor workers,” Evidente said.

The KMU has been urging labor groups to boycott RTWPB hearings and to instead push for the passage of House Bill No. 375 which seeks a legislated wage hike of P125 across the board nationwide, he added.

Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. on Thursday said a P10-increase in wages would be a more ideal offer.

However, Marañon noted that some companies that were doing well have given their employees above the minimum wage and even gave up to 14th month bonuses.

There were also businesses that would have difficulty implementing a wage hike, he said. -Carla P. Gomez, Inquirer Visayas

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