Bicol wage board OKs P15 pay hike for workers

By DANNY O. CALLEJA

LEGAZPI CITY  – It’s a flat P15 hike on the daily minimum pay of workers of the private sector in Bicol, effective Nov. 1 regardless of their place of work.

“This is the first time in the history of Bicol that the classification between cities and municipalities has been set aside, thereby forming a one regional wage increase level under one wage order,” lawyer Alvin Villamor, the regional director for Bicol of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said.

Wage Order No. 14, which was finalized over the week following a three-month marathon wage consultations and dialogues conducted by the Tripartite Wage and Productivity Board (RTWPB) directs private employers across the region to grant at least P15 increase in the current wage system, Villamor who also chairs the RTWPB said.

The amount was decided by way of integrating the P7.00 cost of living allowance (COLA) being given to the workers under Wage Order No. 13 with the new P8.00 increase granted under Wage Order No. 14 to the daily basic pay, Villamor said.

Upon effectivity of the new wage order, the new minimum wage rate in Bicol for non-agriculture workers in establishments employing 15 workers or more will be P235.00.

Workers in establishments employing 11-15 workers will have P222.00, while those workers in establishments with less than 20 workers will receive P204.00.

For the cottage and handicraft sector, the new wage rate for workers in establishments with 20 workers or more will be P210.00 while those in establishments with less than 20 workers will be P200.00.

Agriculture workers in plantations will receive P215.00, while those in non-plantation will get P195.00.

“We have simplified the wage order in which even the common laborer could understand. No more COLA, no more sub-sectors just pure minimum wage rate as simple as that,” the DOLE regional chief explained.

For the past decades, the amount of the minimum wage law in Bicol depends on the locality of the workers. City workers have higher minimum wage rates than those who were in other municipalities, Villamor said noting that such is one common cause for confusion among labor and management.

“This time the minimum wage rule is standard region wide. It means that wherever you go in Bicol, whether Catanduanes or Naga or Legazpi, the minimum wage increases will be the same. It’s part of our simplification process,” Villamor added.

The prevailing rates however will be higher in major cities like Legazpi, Naga, Iriga and Tabaco and highly urbanized municipalities like Pili, Camarines Sur and Daraga, Albay because of the effect of the previous wage orders.

For non-agricultural establishments in these areas employing more than 15 workers, the new rate is P247 or P234 for those employing 11-15 workers and P216 for those employing not more than 10.

Cottage or handicraft industry employers employing 20 or more workers in these cities and prime municipalities, the daily rate should be P222 and P212 for those who have less than 20 workers.

In the agriculture sector, the rates in these areas are now P225 and P205 for plantation and non-plantation workers respectively.

Villamor on the other hand said that the new wage law will be implemented in two staggered payments in those areas far from the city or prime municipalities to give ample time to establishment owners to adjust.

This means that when it is P235 upon effectivity last November 1 for non-agricultural workers working in establishments with more than 15 employees, it will be raised to P241 starting March 1, 2011 and to P247 by August 1, 2011.

While it is P222 in non-agricultural establishments employing 11-15 workers as of November 1, it will be P228 and P234 by March 1 and August 1, 2011, respectively.

From P204 starting last November 1, it will be P210 and P216 by March 1 and August 1, 2011 respectively for those employing not more than 10 workers in non-agricultural employers.

For the cottage or handicraft industry workers, the rate for 20 or more workers would be P218 in March 1 and P222 by August 1, 2011 from P210 starting November 1 or from P200 as of November 1 to P206, then P212 in March 1 and August 1, 2011, respectively for those that employ less than 20 workers.

In the agricultural sector, P220 by March 1 to P225 by August 1, 2011 from P215 upon November 1 for plantation workers and from P195 as of November 1, it would be P200 to P205 by March 1 and August 1, 2011 for non-plantation workers.

Villamor said that as in most wage orders issued since 1990, Wage order No. 14 is being implemented motu proprio or even without petitions from labor groups.

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