Cordillera wage board adjusts basic pay of workers

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BAGUIO CITY  – The Cordillera Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB-CAR) granted a significant adjustment in the minimum wage of workers by fully incorporating the Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) to the basic pay of workers increasing the minimum daily wage in the region from P255 to P285 depending on the sector where the employees belong. Under Wage Order No. 17 which was approved on 14 May 2015 and will take effect on 29 June 2015, daily minimum wage earners in the industry sector or those in the non-agriculture sector and retail/service with 11 workers or more in the Baguio-La Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan-Tuba (BLIST) area will be receiving P280 from P270 while those in other areas of the region will be receiving P265 from the previous P255.

Daily wage earners in the agriculture and retail/service with 10 workers and below will be receiving P270 from P260 while those similarly situated in other areas of the region will be receiving P255 from P245.

By January 1, 2016, daily minimum wage earners in the industry sector in the BLIST will be receiving P285 from P280 while those similarly situated in other areas of the region will be still receiving P265.

Furthermore, employees in the micro-enterprises in the BLIST will still be receiving P270 while those in other areas will be getting P255 daily wage.

Augusto Aquillo, RTWPB-CAR board secretary, said the approval of the new wage order and its upcoming implementation is the realization of the government’s new policy on wage fixing which is the Two-Tiered Wage System (TTWS), setting a floor wage rates for the workers, one for BLIST and another for other areas in the region, and by granting a productivity-based pay for performing workers in the company in order to distinguish workers who are really doing their job and deserve additional pay and those who are simply working for compliance sake.

He pointed out the role of the wage board is to set the lowest standards in terms of fixing the minimum wage of workers in the private sector, thus, it is up to the employers who can afford to grant higher wages considering that what was fixed was only the minimum wage.

According to him, the TTWS provides safeguard to lowly paid workers, who are the minimum wage earners, that no one among them shall be paid lower than the prescribed rates; provides good opportunity for all workers to increase their wages due to good work performance or behaviour which is incentivizing the scheme or what is popularly known as productivity-based pay and it provides benefits to employers since good work performance are translated into a better business atmosphere that guarantees efficient operations and higher income.

“The new minimum wage rates provided by the new wage order should be seen as a protection to minimum wage earners only.  It should not be understood as the actual amounts the employers are to be the employees. The wider the gap between the minimum wage and the poverty threshold, the better it is not for the workers,” Aquillo stressed.

The new wage order mandates the productivity-based pay shall continue to be implemented following the guidelines provided by Advisory No. 02, series of 2013, Advisory 02-2014 and subsequent advisories which may be issued by the board.

In the case of private educational institutions, the share of covered workers and employees in the tuition fee increases for schoolyear 2014-2015 shall be considered as compliance to the new wage order, however, payment of any shortfall shall be done starting schoolyear 2015-2016.

On the other hand, private education institutions which did not increase their tuition fees for the schoolyear 2014-2015, may defer compliance with the new wage order until the coming schoolyear.

In the case of contracts for construction projects and for security, janitorial and other similar services, the prescribed increases shall be borne by the principals or clients of the construction/service contractors and the contract shall be deemed amended accordingly. In the event, however, that the principals or clients fail to pay the prescribed increases, the construction/service contractors shall be jointly and severally liable with their principals or clients.

The wage order stated all workers paid by results, including those who are paid on piece work, takay, pakyaw, or task basis, shall be receive not less than the adjusted amount prescribed by the order for the normal working hours which shall not exceed eight hours day or a proportion thereof for working less than eight hours.

In addition, persons employed under apprenticeship or learnership agreement shall be entitled to not less than 75 percent of the new minimum wage rate under the order.

At the same time, the minimum wage rates of workers, who by the nature of their work, have to ravel, shall be those applicable in the domicile head office of the employer. The minimum wage rates of workers working in branches or agencies of establishments in or outside the region shall be those applicable in the place where they are stationed.

By Dexter A. See

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