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Minimum wage hike untimely

The Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) in Eastern Visayas is holding six public hearings on the adjustment to increase the minimum wage rate of workers. The public hearings are part of the review in response to the petition for adjustment of the daily minimum wage of workers in the private sector, filed by the Solidarity of Unions in the Philippines for Empowerment and Reforms, to raise the daily wage to Php750.
On April 22, the RTWPB held the first public hearing in Kuting Reef, Macrohon, Southern Leyte. This was followed by the same activity on April 27 in Ormoc City for northwest Leyte areas. From May 16 to 23, similar public hearings are scheduled in Borongan City for Eastern Samar province, Calbayog City for Samar, Catarman town for Northern Samar, and Tacloban City for the northern Leyte area.
Workers and employers in Leyte provinces are divided on the proposal to adjust the daily minimum wage in Eastern Visayas, an official said on Thursday, citing results of public hearings in the two areas.
RTWPB Eastern Visayas Secretary Reynaldo Soliveres said both workers and employers in Southern Leyte opposed the wage hike; while in Ormoc City, the two sectors are divided on the proposal.
“In Southern Leyte, they are one in saying that they are not at this time in favor of wage adjustments due to reeling impacts of Typhoons Odette and Agaton,” Soliveres said.
The Southern Leyte Chamber of Commerce, Inc. (SLCCI) stated, in a board resolution and letter addressed to Department of Labor Regional Director Henry John Jalbuena, the reasons why SLCCI is not in favor of the increase at this time:
“COVID 19 Pandemic has brought significant change to people’s lives and business activities. Almost all companies have experienced a significant downturn in economic activity forcing them to temporarily close, and a massive job loss was experienced due to huge economic losses.”
“Typhoon Odette (Rai). Southern Leyte was devastated by a super typhoon and most businesses were not able to recover from the devastation. Today, businesses (those that remain) are moving to the recovery stage but are still struggling to abide by the set pay levels due to the continuing economic crisis.”
“Typhoon Agaton (Megi). The tropical storm Agaton over the Eastern Visayas region caused floods, landslides, claimed lives, and worsened the condition of many businesses in the area.”
“Retrenchment of Workers. With the proposed increase of minimum wage, we would be forced to further retrench some of our workers since we could no longer afford to pay them.”
“Higher Product Cost. Companies in the manufacturing industry will have to apply the increased labor cost to the product cost, thereby increasing the prices in the market. Enterprises providing services will likewise increase their fees.”
In Ormoc City, some said no to wage increase and some said yes. Others said the increase is too much,” Soliveres told reporters in an interview.
“We will consolidate all data gathered in six public hearings. This is subject to further deliberations since we want to come up with a fair decision,” Soliveres added.
Soliveres said that the wage body has been reviewing the economic indicators due to the impact of the pandemic, series of oil price hikes, and price adjustments of basic commodities.
The current minimum daily pay in the region is PHP325 under Wage Order No. 21 issued in August 2019.
The RTWPB is a tripartite body composed of six members – three representatives from the government, two from the workers’ sector, and one from the employers’ sector.

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