Editorial: Wage-setting mechanism

A NEW wage order is always followed by statements from the organized labor sector about how the amount of increase in minimum pay is inadequate.

Whatever amount is granted by the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board or wage board in Central Visayas will be seen by this sector as not enough to cover increases in the prices of basic commodities and services and to meet the needs of workers.

Such was the reaction of the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) Central Visayas to the P18 per day wage adjustment approved for the region.

Lawyer Nora Analyn Demeterio Diego, ALU-TUCP Central Visayas vice president, said the amount is just too small. She said they are happy a wage increase was approved before the end of this year, but they are sad to know it was just for P18, according to a SunStar Cebu report.

She said the P18 was just like small change to workers after the group originally sought a much bigger increase in minimum wage. “Of course, kahibaw ta nga dili gyod mahatag, but P18?” she said. (We knew our proposal would not be granted, but P18?)

Diego also said the approved wage adjustment is far from the P30 per day wage increase recently implemented in Western Visayas.

There must be something in the labor sector’s complaint that merits study. Since it has become a sad refrain where labor complains after every wage board order, authorities might as well change the tune and take the effort to review or update wage-setting procedures.

The law on the setting and adjusting of minimum wage levels, Republic Act 6727 or the Wage Rationalization Act, took effect in 1989 or 30 years ago.

It is the same law that dictates the composition of wage boards in the regions and mandates that they not only set pay levels but also protect workers’ welfare and promote enterprise and productivity.

It says it is the state’s policy “to rationalize the fixing of minimum wages and to promote productivity-improvement and gain-sharing measures to ensure a decent standard of living for the workers and their families; to guarantee the rights of labor to its just share in the fruits of production...”

Much has happened in those 30 years in the ways business is run and work is done.

It’s time government reviewed the wage-setting mechanism to find out how to make it reflective of realities on the ground.