By Rey Anthony Chiu, PIA-Bohol / 08:44 PM October 11, 2019
Arguing more on the productivity basis for a wage increase, Bohol Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) thinks an across-the-board increase in daily wages this year is irrational and not economically viable and instead, the group bats for a moratorium of the P338.00 daily pay.
BCCI, with two more organizations: Panglao Island Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PICCI) and Bohol Association of Hotels Resorts and Restaurants (BAHRR) as well as the Bohol Alliance of Labor Organizations (BALO) presented their positions papers during the last of the series of wage hearings across the Visayas that the Regional Tripartite Wage Productivity Board -7 (RTWPB-7) brought to Boholanos at the MetroCentre Hotel, October 11.
And while BCCI suggests a moratorium considering that Bohol’s minimum wage is already higher than [those] of other provinces with almost the same or even better economic landscape, BALO, which is an aggrupation of six labor organizations asks for a P48.30 across-the-board adjustment in daily wages for all the workers in the non-agriculture and agriculture sectors in Region VII.
The RTWPB-7 led by National Economic Development Authority Regional Director Efren Carreon, Trade and Industry Regional Director Asteria Caberte, management representative Philip Tan and labor sector representative Jose Tomongha came to Tagbilaran to hold the last of the series of wage public hearings and also brought the wage proposals for kasambahays.
DTI Director Caberte said this is the first time that the RTWPB included the wage determination for the region’s kasambahays.
As to the RTWPB, the NEDA Director Carreon assured that the wage hearing would be a basis for the Board to decide on the wisdom of a wage increase considering the labor, management and the government in their decisions for the Department of Labor and Employment.
The wage hearing also came in with pending petitions of Cebu-based groups: Cebu Labor Coalition (CELAC), Lonbisco Employees Organization (LEO), Metaphil Workers Union (MWU) and UnionBank Employees Association for a P341.75 across-the board increase.
Over this, BCCI, through its chairman Reginald Ong, admitted that while the petitions are workers’ rights, labor groups should [also] consider filing petitions for wage increase but seek for a win-win footing, based on the economic activities and annual GDP of a province or a city, and should never be computed on regional basis.
Labor groups have cited supervening conditions: high inflation rate, TRAIN Law, prices of basic commodities and services, high fuel prices, erosion of the peso purchasing power, low wages, poverty incidence and the widening gap between the rich and poor, growing unemployment, under-employment, job insecurity, and a horde of other factors.
BALO, with its officers and members from Bohol Light Company Incorporated Employee’s Union (BLCIEU), Bohol Limestone Mine Workers Union (BLMWU), Tagbilaran Coca Cola Plant Employee Workers Association (TACPEWA-AWATU), Southern Star Bus Incorporated Workers Union (SSBIWU), Philippine Marine Institute Faculty Employees Union (PMIFEU) and University Of Bohol Union Employees (UBUE), bunt for increased purchasing power of workers, balanced and equitable decision on wage increase decisions.
But, former BCCI Chairman Engr Albert Uy, pressed that Bohol can not go across the board because workers are not all equally skilled, and there is a noted attitude problem in local workers.
He said while workers in Luzon work on overtime, local workers not only hate that, they also go on long absences after paydays.
Besides, Chamber officials Marietta Gasatan, who works in the tourism sector revealed that this is not a favorable time to grant an increase when the economic driver tourism suffered some 20% decline in tourist arrivals.
BAHRR President Engr Allen Varquez also supported the claim and hints that any increase in wages in Bohol would dent on the industry.
Considering all these, while the chamber agrees to the RTWPB’s functions to determine and fix wages applicable to a region, it should not, hamper or jeopardize the creation of jobs, erode the gains made by labor and capital in maintaining industrial peace and cooperation; hinder economic growth and development especially with Bohol economy largely comprised or micro and small enterprises that an increase can put these investments to agony in its capacity to pay its workers.