Public hearing set on planned wage hike in CL

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    CITY OF SAN FERNANDO – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has slated a series of public hearings in Central Luzon to tackle the labor sector’s petition for a P75 to P125 minimum wage increase in the region where the last minimum pay hike was over two years ago.

    This, even as Labor Sec. Rosalinda Baldoz urged regional DOLE offices nationwide to adopt a project now being piloted in Central Luzon malls to ensure that malls, their tenants and their sub-contractors are “labor-compliant.”

    “Under this project, the mall, as well as its tenants and sub-contractors would be monitored for compliance not only with minimum wage, but also with other commitments such as maintaining a drug-free environment, protection of workers from sexual harassment, health and safety standards and observance of single-parent privileges, among other lawful requirements,” Central Luzon DOLE Director Ernesto Bihis told Punto.

    Bihis said he already initiated the project in a mall in Bulacan which, if found compliant, would be declared a “Labor Standard Compliant Zone” and be awarded plaques and stickers for public display. The DOLE, he said, will also come out with an official list of such zones.

    Bihis said the Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity Board (RTWPB) in his region already finished consultations with the management sector which, he noted, seemed “open” to granting new increases in minimum wage. He said, however, that he was not privy to how much wage increase the management sector was willing to grant.

    The move for wage increase in Central Luzon was initiated by a petition filed by a member of regional Trade Union Council of the Philippines (TUCP) seeking a P75 minimum wage increase in the region.

    “That’s what the TUCP in the region wants, although we know the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) has stuck to its P125 wage increase demand,” Bihis said.

    He said that the public hearings, to be attended by both labor and management sectors from all provinces of Central Luzon, have been slated in Olongapo City and Bulacan on Monday and Tuesday next week.

    “All the data arrived at during consultation meetings and public hearings will be tackled during the final deliberations in the presence of the stakeholders, and representatives from our department, the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) and NEDA (National Economic Development Authority),” he noted.

    Bihis noted that the labor sector in Central Luzon tend to be sympathetic to the difficulties affecting the management sector amid global economic crunch and the effects of severe weather disturbances last year amid an 8.5 percent unemployment rate in the region.

    The last wage order in Central Luzon was dated June 16, 2008. The present wage rates in the region’s provinces, except Aurora, is P302 for non-agricultural workers of firms with assets worth P30 million or more, P294.50 for workers for firms with less assets and P272 for agricultural plantation workers and P256 for non-plantation workers.

    In hospitals with 20 or more beds, the minimum wage is P293, while those in hospitals with less beds get P278. Retail outlets with 16 or more workers are supposed to give a minimum pay of P291 while those with less workers pay them P277. Cottage industry workers get a minimum of P256.

    In Aurora, which is regarded as most rural in the region, the pay for workers is P251 in the non-agriculture sector and in agriculture, P236 for plantation workers and P216 for non-plantation workers, while retail industry workers get P173. Those in the cottage industry get a pay of P224.

    Bihis said he expected some employers affected by the economic crunch would apply for exemptions in case another minimum wage is approved in Central Luzon. He noted that among those significantly adversely affected are sectors in garments, tourism, transport and power generation.

    “I suppose that those in retail and service employing less than 10 workers can be considered from exemptions,” he added.

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