Visayas groups prepare for protests to press wage demands

Published by rudy Date posted on May 28, 2011

ILOILO CITY, Philippines—Labor groups are gearing for protest actions against the decision of the Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity Board in Western Visayas to grant daily paid workers an  P12 emergency cost of living allowance of only P12.

The allowance, which was way below the P99 increase in the daily minimum wage demanded by labor groups, would be implemented 15 days after approval by Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz and the publication of the new wage order. It will cover workers earning the minimum wage in the region.

But wage board labor representative Wennie Sancho decried the allowance as “demeaning and oppressive”  to workers.

Sancho, along with labor representative Hernani Braza, did not sign the ruling in protest.

“We were outvoted,” Sancho said. “We had opted for a P30 increase in the minimum wage to be given in two tranches. The P12 is not even enough to buy a kilo of rice.”

Wenefredo Dubliso, spokesperson of the Kilusang Mayo Uno in Panay, said the wage order echoed the position of employers.

“Once again, the RTWPB has clearly proven itself as nothing but a defender and rubber stamp of employers,” he said.

The wage board conducted two public consultations in Bacolod and Iloilo cities on two petitions filed separately by the Trade Union of Filipino Workers and the National Congress of Unions of Sugar Industry in the Philippines-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines  for a P97 to P99 increase in the daily minimum wage.

Employers offered the granting of a cost of living allowance ranging from P5 to P8 instead of a wage increase. They said they could not afford granting wage increases because their companies were also dealing with economic difficulties brought about by the soaring cost of oil fuel the impact of the global economic crisis.

Sancho said they will appeal to Baldoz.

Labor groups under the Negros-Panay Alliance of Labor are also preparing for protest actions if the wage board’s decision is upheld.

The labor groups were also questioning why DOLE regional director Manuel Roldan voted in support of the P12 emergency cost of living allowance when he was the presiding officer.

Sancho said Roldan’s participation in the voting was a breach of procedure because there was no tie in the voting as the board had voted 4-2 in approving the allowance instead of the wage hike.

But Roldan denied any irregularities, saying that the rules of the board did not forbid him from voting. –Nestor P. Burgos Jr., Inquirer Visayas with a report from Carla P. Gomez, Inquirer Visayas

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