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DOLE says minimum wages still unaffected by price increases

January 15, 2011

THE Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Friday stressed that increases in the prices of basic commodities and services have no impact yet on real minimum wages. This was the statement issued by Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz.

“In 2010, the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards [RTWPBs] have issued 15 new wage orders granting additional daily wage increase ranging from P5 to P22. These wage increases have not yet been generally affected by increases in the prices of goods and services,” Baldoz said.

Citing a wage and price situationer report of the National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC), the Labor and Employment chief said that inflation rate has remained at 3 percent as of December, lower that the 2010 inflation target range of 3.5 percent to 5.5 percent. For 2011, inflation is seen to remain at 3 percent to 5 percent.

“Thus, as of today, there has been very minimal erosion in real minimum wages, Baldoz said, adding that she sees as “high” the P55 wage increase being asked by the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines for workers in the National Capital Region (NCR).

She added that the NCR wage board could only entertain a wage increase petition in July.

“The rules on minimum wage fixing provide that a wage order may not be disturbed for 12 months and no petition for wage increase shall be entertained within the period, except in the event of supervening conditions. So, the regional wage board in the NCR can only entertain a wage increase petition in July,” Baldoz said,

The round of wage orders last year came into effect in July 2010. To date, only Region VIII has yet to issue a wage order, as it has not concluded its sectoral consultations and public hearings. Region II is set to deliberate on the wage issue on January 19 and issue its wage order thereafter.

“The NWPC and the RTWPBs continues to monitor the supply and price levels of basic commodities as they affect the incomes of workers. They regularly submit reports to the Commission and the DOLE Secretary,” Baldoz said.

She pointed out that said prices of food products remain stable, except for refined sugar, the price of which has doubled from P36/kilo in January 2009 to P65/kilo in January 2011, and possibly bread (pan de sal) if there is continued increase in the prices of raw materials, such as flour and sugar.

For nonfood items, Baldoz observed that the DBCC’s assumption for 2011 is that world oil prices will range from $75 to $95 a barrel, which is one of the basis for its inflation outlook.

To date, the price of Dubai crude oil has reached $91.64 a barrel and this is because of the seasonal winter requirements for fuel, among other reasons.

For water, Baldoz said there is no indication yet from the water companies of any increase in water rates, while for power, there has already been a net reduction of 27 centavos per kilowatt hour in electric rates in January because of generation, transmission and distribution charges.

With regards to transportation fares, the NWPC has reported that the Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) had approved a P10 increase in the flag down rate of taxis to P40 and a P1 increase in the charge—for every succeeding 300 meters to P3.50.

For regular buses, there is a petition by the Intercity Bus Operators Association (Interboa) for a P5 increase for the first 5 kilometers and a P0.70 increase in the charge for the succeeding kilometers.
Southern Luzon bus operators have also a petition for a P2.50 increase in the main fare.

For airconditioned buses, the has a petition for a P6 increase in the fare for the first 5km and a P0.70 increase in the charge for the succeeding kilometers.

But jeepney operators belonging to the Alliance of Transport Operators and Drivers of the Philippines, Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines, Liga ng Transportasyon at Operator sa Pilipinas, NTU-Transporter in the NCR and Region IV-A have filed a petition for a P1.00 increase in the fare for the first 4km and a P0.10 increase in the charge for the succeeding kilometers. –JOMAR CANLAS REPORTER, Manila Times

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