BACKBREAKING JOB. Planting rice requires a lot of stamina, according to these farmers in Barangay Rumbang, Pototan, Iloilo. Wage Order No. 24 increasing the minimum wage of workers in agricultural, non-agricultural, industrial, and commercial sectors in Western Visayas takes effect today. In agricultural plantations, the new minimum wage is P295, up from P281.50. IAN PAUL CORDERO/PN

ILOILO City – Wage Order No. 24 increasing the minimum wage of workers in agricultural, non-agricultural, industrial, and commercial sectors in Western Visayas takes effect today.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Region 6 would be deploying teams to make sure the wage order is followed, said Director Johnson Cañete yesterday.

As approved by the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB), the following are the new minimum wage rates:

* P365 in non-agriculture / industrial / commercial sector employing more than 10 workers; the previous rate was P323.50

* P295 in non-agriculture / industrial / commercial sector employing 10 workers or below; the previous rate was P271.50

* P295 in agricultural plantations; the previous rate was P281.50

* P295 in agricultural non-plantation; the previous rate was P271.50

Cañete urged workers to help DOLE-6 enforce the new wage order by reporting to it those that do not comply.

“Any employee can file a complaint,” he stressed.

Cañete also said companies felt aggrieved by Wage Order No. 24 may file an appeal with the DOLE.

They have 10 days starting July 12 to file their appeal,” said Cañete.

In Aklan, however, the wage order would be enforced on November yet.

The province is affected by Boracay Island’s closure, according to Atty. Ma. Ailyne Valaquio, secretary of the RTWPB

“The Board understands the challenges in Boracay. The new wage order would take effect there three months after the island reopens,” said Valaquio.

Boracay was closed on April 26 for six months of rehabilitation.

The following are also exempted from Wage Order No. 24: new business enterprises and establishments adversely affected by calamities natural or human-induced.

Cañete said the RTWPB took into consideration the poverty threshold (P289) and the average wage (P400) in Western Visayas in determining the new minimum wage rates.

Hindi man natin na-grant ‘yung increase na demand ng petitioner, we are more or less fair – to the works and to the employers,” said Cañete.

The wage hike petition was filed by the Philippine Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Workers Union – Trade Union Congress of the Philippines based in Negros Occidental. It sought the following increases in the daily wage:

* P150 for workers in businesses with over 10 workers

* P140 for workers in agricultural plantations

* P130 for workers in establishments with less than 10 workers

The increase that the wage board approved was P41.50.

Even then, the business was not pleased.

“We are shocked. Indi gid manami tanan ang reaction,” said Iloilo Business Club (IBC) executive director Lea Lara. “That amount was way beyond what we were expecting.”

She added: “Kabudlay nâ ya. Next year basî mag-entertain naman wage increase, we might not recover again.”/PN

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