By Joseph B.A. Marzan
Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Region 6 Director Sixto Rodriguez Jr. assured workers that their latest wage order, which slightly increases the current regional daily minimum wage, will be approved and implemented.
Rodriguez and other members of the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board-VI (RTWPB-VI) signed Wage Order No. RBVI-26 on Friday, May 13, 2022, after a board meeting on Thursday.
The new order would increase wages for non-agricultural employees by P55, from P395 to P450 for employers with more than 10 workers; and P110 from P310 to P420 for employers with 10 workers or less.
For workers in the agricultural sector, they will get a P95-increase, from P315 to P410.
But these increases will have to be approved by the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC) first and will take effect 15 days after the approved wage order is published in a newspaper of general circulation within Western Visayas.
Rodriguez said they were supposed to release their decision before Labor Day on May 1, but scheduling conflicts among board members delayed the release.
He said that this was the highest wage increase that the RTWPB-VI has issued, and that the region was first to do so, ahead of the National Capital Region and Region 7 (Central Visayas) which are more economically advanced.
“We were supposed to release [the wage order] on May 1st after proper consultations within 3 different areas, Negros, Iloilo, and Aklan, but due to some conflicting schedules, we were not able to issue one before May 1st. But we have directives coming from the secretary that we have to act on these past wage petitions,” he said.
Citing his previous experiences with other regional offices, Rodriguez said wage orders will usually be approved as they have complied with legal requirements.
“We have submitted [the wage order for review], but usually when [a wage order] is submitted, as per experience [because] I’ve been to 6 different [DOLE regional offices], usually that would already be okay, unless we have acted improperly. The findings of facts [for the wage order] are actually conclusive, they just have to see if we have complied with the guidelines issued by the NWPC,” he said.
As to when the NWPC will approve the regional wage order, Rodriguez cannot pinpoint the date, but hopes that it would be before Independence Day (June 12).
“We cannot also dictate upon [the NWPC] when [the wage order would be approved], but I was informed [on Thursday] that they would sit in by next week, they will start deliberating on it. Most probably, on or before June 12,” he said.
He also allayed fears that businesses would have to shut down due to these new recommended increases.
“I’ve been to different regions, and I haven’t seen, on factual basis, that any wage increase issued by the [RTWPB] resulted in the closure of establishments. Actually, retrenchment of employees and closure of establishments is resulting from serious business losses and not the issuance of a wage order. The principle involved here is that ‘anything in excess is evil’, but the recent [wage increase] isn’t as high as what was being demanded at P750,” he stated.
He said that eight wage increase petitions were filed, but the current order was finally sparked by the petition of FISHTA Union for Empowerment and Reforms through Solidarity Action-SUPER (FUERSA-SUPER) to raise the regional minimum wage to P750.
But during consultations held in Bacolod City, Iloilo City, and Kalibo, Aklan in April, many members of the business sector expressed their opposition to the wage increase and even offered alternatives.