Workers in Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon provinces will see their minimum wage increase by P35-P50 starting Sept. 24. -- Photo by KJ Rosales, The Philippine Star

A REGIONAL wage board approved an increase in the daily minimum wages of workers in the Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon (Calabarzon) provinces, the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) said on Thursday.

The Regional Tripartite Wages and Board in Region IV-A (Calabarzon) issued a wage order which provides a 9-11% increase from the current daily minimum wage rates, ranging from P35 to P50 depending on the geographical area and labor sector.

The higher daily minimum wage will take effect in Calabarzon on Sept. 24, the DoLE said.

Around 719,704 minimum wage earners in the region, which is considered a major manufacturing hub, are expected to benefit from the increase.

For non-agriculture workers, the daily minimum wage will increase to P520 for those in the extended metropolitan area, and P479 for those working in component cities and first-class municipalities.

Non-agriculture workers in second- and third-class municipalities will now receive P425 a day, while those in the fourth, fifth and sixth municipalities will get a P385 daily wage.

For agriculture workers, the daily minimum wage will now be P479 for those in the extended metropolitan area and component cities, and P425 for first-class municipalities. The daily wage for agriculture workers in the second- to sixth-class municipalities will increase to P385.

Meanwhile, the daily wage for workers in retail and service establishments with not more than 10 workers will increase to P385 from the current P350.

Agricultural workers in the new cities of Calaca, Batangas, and Carmona, Cavite will receive a P89 increase in their daily minimum pay after being converted from first-class municipalities to cities.

The DoLE said the Calabarzon wage board’s order was submitted to the National Wages and Productivity Commission on Sept. 4 and was affirmed by the body on Sept. 5.

“The (wage) increase… resulted from several petitions filed by various labor groups seeking an increase in the daily minimum wage due to escalating prices of basic goods and commodities,” the DoLE said.

The Labor department said about 1.6 million workers earning above minimum wage may also indirectly benefit from the wage adjustment, as companies will correct the wage distortion.

However, the approved wage hike is significantly lower than the petitions filed by various labor groups.

For instance, the Worker’s Initiative for Wage Increase (Win for Win) in March filed a petition asking the Calabarzon wage board to increase the region’s daily minimum wage to P750 to help workers cope with soaring prices of basic goods.

The group sought wage hikes of P280, P321, P360 and P400 for the four wage classes in Calabarzon.

“The meager increase granted by the wage board in Calabarzon and even in the (National Capital Region) last few months only showed how futile the regional wage fixing mechanisms is in addressing the widening gap between workers’ wages and the cost of living,” Partido Manggagawa Chairman Renato B. Magtubo said in Viber message.

Josua T. Mata, secretary general of Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa, said the approved increase is not enough for workers to recover the diminished value of their wages.

“Clearly, it’s not a real wage increase,” he said in a Viber message. “Indeed, the regional wage-setting mechanisms that we have never fails to disappoint the workers.”

Mr. Magtubo called on Congress to fast-track deliberations on legislated wage hike proposals, which he said could help workers deal with the rising prices of basic commodities.

“It is also high time for Congress to take a serious look at the regional minimum wage fixing mechanism, which most labor groups in the country want to be reviewed or abolished,” Mr. Magtubo said.

In March, Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” F. Zubiri filed a bill that seeks to increase wages of all workers by P150.

Labor Secretary Bienvenido E. Laguesma has said he would leave it to Congress to decide on legislated wage hike proposals. — John Victor D. Ordoñez