By Rjay Zuriaga Castor
Labor organizations and members of academe in the Iloilo province unanimously agreed to push for a P100 “wage recovery” on the daily salary amid the skyrocketing prices of basic commodities and the weakening of the peso’s purchasing power over the past months.
The United Labor-Western Visayas, an alliance of labor groups, along with the UP Workers Union, Alliance of Concerned Teachers, and other progressive organizations, made this manifestation during the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board in Region 6 (RTWPB-6) consultation with stakeholders on Thursday.
The public consultation was initiated to discuss the two separate petitions filed in March 2023 by the United Labor-Western Visayas and the Iloilo Pepsi Cola Workers Independent Union. The petitioners sought a P100 wage recovery “across-the-board.”
“Since there are two petitions filed, we considered this by first recognizing and determining the legal personality of these unions. Nung una isa lang yung nag file but we have to clarify first who are the members of this alliance who filed the first petition,” said Regional Director Sixto Rodriguez Jr. of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the concurrent chairperson of the RTWPB-6.
“Kaya kami natagalan dahil dun sa hirap namin na intindihin kung ano ba talaga ang grupong inyong nirerepresent,” he added, emphasizing that there are two aspect of which the wage board have to act on the petitions — the procedural and substantive aspect.
Despite being an alliance of labor groups, it was revealed that the United Labor-Western Visayas is not recognized as a legitimate labor organization under DOLE. The alliance was only established in February this year.
Under the Labor Code of the Philippines, the DOLE is mandated to process the application for registration of labor organizations in order for them to acquire legal personality and enjoy the rights given to legitimate labor organizations.
However, Rodriguez believed that it is necessary to proceed with the consultation by disregarding already the technicalities involved in both petitioners.
The RTWPB-6 chief furthered that the consultation among stakeholders is to gather input on whether a new wage order should be issued in the region and to consider the viewpoints and justifications of the petitioners.
“They don’t want to call it wage increase, they want to term it wage recovery… As per their manifestation, they are moving for a wage recovery of P100,” Rodriguez reiterated.
Rodrigues, however, clarified that the grant of “across-the-board” P100 wage recovery does not fall within the jurisdiction of RTWPB.
“We just have to clarify that because the petition is wage [recovery] to P100 per day across-the-board… The Board does not have the power to issue across-the-board wage increases. It is beyond our jurisdiction and capacity to issue that. If we follow technicalities then we can immediately dismiss the case,” he explained.
Based on the standards and criteria established by law, RTWPB’s authority is only limited to granting regional wage increases to employees earning the statutory minimum wage rates. Wage orders issued by the regional board cover only private sector workers, except for household helpers and persons in the personal employ of another, including family drivers.
Rodriguez also said that even in the absence of a filed petition for a wage increase, the RTWPB can motu proprio or initiate an action on whether a wage order should be issued. A public hearing is required before the Boards can issue a wage order.
Once the consultation among stakeholders throughout the entire region is finished, Rodriguez said the Board will convene to assess whether it is necessary to hold an additional hearing to determine if a wage order should be issued.
RTWPB-6 has scheduled a consultation with stakeholders in Negros Occidental and Bacolod City on August 1, which will be followed by Aklan.