By Lalaine M. Jimene
EFFECTIVE FEBRUARY 12, 2017, the minimum wage for non-agricultural workers in Eastern Visayas has increased to P 285.00 per day, up from P 260.00/day. The P 25.00 daily increase includes a P 7.00/day Cost of Living Allowance or COLA mandated under RB VII-17. All non-agricultural workers in the region will now have the same wage, to include those in sugar mills which, in the past, had a slightly pay by P 2.00 a day. The region has only one sugar mill, the HISUMCO, located in Kananga, Leyte.
However, private educational institutions that have not applied for tuition hikes in 2016 may defer the implementation of the increase until school year 2017-2018. The wage increase mandated
in Wage Order No. RB VIII-19 takes effect 15 days after it was published in a local newspaper on January 29, 2017. Meanwhile, for those in the cottage and handicraft industry, their daily wage rate is now P 253.00/day, up from P 231.00 or a total increase of P 22.00. The minimum wage rate, on the other hand, for retail and service workers employing 10 workers and below is P 245.00/
day. For those employing more, it is P 275.00/day. These used to be P 238.00 and P 268.00, respectively. For agricultural workers that are non-sugar, the minimum wage now is P 251.00. In sugar
farms, it is P 245.00. Both got an increase of P 17.00/day.
The wage increases for EV workers range from a low of P 10.00/day to P 25.00/day, and was reached through consultation with business and labor groups last year. In the prefatory statement of the wage order, the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) said that “motu propio” or by their own volition, they conducted sectoral wage consultations in Ormoc City and
Catbalogan City on August 10 and 23, 2016, respectively. After which, a regional public hearing was held on October 12 to “gather inputs from the public at large.” “The results of the consultations and public hearing, as well as the review of socio-economic indicators revealed that there is a need to increase the minimum wage in Eastern Visayas without impairing the viability of business in the region,” the wage order reads.
The wage board also took into consideration the effect of Super Typhoon Yolanda and various typhoons that followed it. “The effects of Super Typhoon Yolanda and the successive subsequent typhoons to hit the region has caused a very slow growth in the Agriculture Sector, more so to smaller farms and in the Retail/Service sector employing not more than 30 workers,” the wage order states.
That is why sugar mill workers that were paid higher before were lumped with the non-agriculture sector. The sugar industry in the region took a beating from Yolanda and affected production.
The new wage scheme applies to workers paid by result or “piecework, takay, pakyaw or task basis.” As for “apprentices and learners”, the wage board mandates that they receive no less than 75% of the applicable minimum wage.
For private educational institutions, the wage board states that those “which have not increased their tuition fees for school year 2016-2017 may defer compliance” until the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year. The new wage order was signed on December 19, 2016 yet by Orlandy C. Uy, employers’ representative; Miguel T. Tezon, workers’ representative, Cythia R. Nierras, vicechairman and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) regional director; and chairman Elias A. Cayanong, regional director of the Department of Labor and Employment.