Monday, May 21, 2012

Metro workers get P30 additional COLA

The Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board-National Capital Region (RTWPB-NCR) has approved a P30 additional daily cost of living allowance (COLA) for workers in Metro Manila as well as the integration of the P22 COLA under the previous wage order. 

The decision was issued after numerous public hearings and consultations were held in response to the petition of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines for a P90 across-the-board daily wage increase in the National Capital Region (NCR).

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz said that the wage board took into consideration various factors in making the decision, such as the viability of business and industry, and inflation rate.

The P30 daily allowance will be given in two installments. The first tranche of P20 will be given upon the effectivity of Wage Order NCR-17, which is 15 days after it is published on nationally distributed broadsheets, while the second trench will be given on Nov. 1, 2012.

Upon the effectivity of the wage order, the daily minimum wage of workers in the non-agricultural sector will be P446, while it will be P409 for those in the agricultural sector, private hospitals (with bed capacity of only 100 beds or less), retail/service establishments employing 15 workers or less and manufacturing establishments that regularly employ less than 10 workers. In November, the daily salaries will be P456 and P419, respectively.

Militant groups, however, were not happy with the announcement, calling the increase “ridiculously small.”

Not for everyone
The wage order applies to all minimum wage earners in Metro Manila with the exemption of household or domestic workers, those who render personal service to another such as personal maid, family driver etc, and workers of duly registered Barangay Micro Business Enterprises or BMBEs.

However, registered BMBEs shouldn’t pay their workers lower than P259.36 a day. This is the NCR poverty threshold as of 2011 determined by the National statistics Office.

In the case of construction workers, security, janitorial and similar services, the COLA provisions shall be payable by the principals or clients of the construction/service contractors.

Distressed establishments, new business enterprises retail/service, establishments employing not more than 10 workers and establishments adversely affected by natural calamities could apply to be exempted from the wage order as stated in the Republic Act 9178 or the BMBE law.

This exemption aims to assist budding businesses and those who are recovering from a tragedy.

“The purpose of this law is to allow a business enterprise to develop or become a more viable business. This is why they were given that consideration. However, this law should not be used as an instrument to exploit the workers,” said Alan Maca-raya, regional director of the Department of 
Labor and Employment-NCR regional director and chairman of the RTWPB-NCR.

Baldoz said that with the implementation of the two-tiered wage system, the wage order provides that the RTWPB-NCR shall be obliged to issue an advisory on the “second tier or the performance-based pay within 60 days.”

The advisory shall serve as a guideline for private establishments on the range of productivity bonuses and incentives that an enterprise or industry may provide based on agreement between workers and management, she said. 

Based on the two-tiered wage system, the first tier is the mandatory wage adjustment prescribed in Wage Order No. NCR-17, while the second tier provides for a productivity-based pay (PBP) above the minimum wage rate to recognize and reward the monetary value of workers’ productivity and performance and their contribution to the overall business profitability and growth. 

Baldoz said that productivity-based pay (PBP) refers to wage rate adjustment attributed to workers’ performance, value of the job, cost of living, business growth, financial capacity and competitiveness of the enterprise. The criteria of the PBP will be determined and agreed upon by both labor and management at the establishment level.

“The wage order also encouraged us to adopt productivity improvement schemes that will improve the quality of life of workers,” Baldoz said. 

The umbrella group Bagong Alyan-sang Makabayan, however, denounced the NCR wage board for the COLA increase, saying it is far from the P125 wage increase that many labor groups have been demanding.

“The amount is ridiculously small, grossly inadequate, and utterly insulting. Once again, the Philippine government shows that it gives more importance to the interests of big business rather than the interests of the workers. Even more insulting is that the small amount comes in two tranches. Maliit na nga, installment pa! This is of course the inevitable outcome of President Aquino’s Labor Day doomsday speech where he lambasted the proposal for a P125 legislated wage hike as being bad for the economy,” Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes Jr. said.

“The increase represents a mere 7 percent adjustment from the current NCR wage levels. In fact, the nationwide average wage adjustments remain one of the lowest in the world, even below the global average of more than 10 percent,” Reyes said.

“We plan to raise this issue before the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on May 29, when the Philippine government’s rights record is scrutinized by the member countries of the UNHRC. This is a continuing violation of the Philippine government’s commitment under the Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, particularly the right to an adequate standard of living,” he added.

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