September 30, 2023

Starting tomorrow (Nov. 18) all minimum wage earners in the Cordillera shall enjoy an increase in their daily take home pay as mandated by the new Wage Order (RB-CAR-20) which was approved and issued by the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board-Cordillera.
Analyzing the said new wage order, it appears to be simpler and therefore easier to implement because it provides for only two minimum wage rates unlike the previous wage orders where many rates were provided. These two new minimum wage rates refer to the P350/day (P340 basic and P10 Cola) applicable in Baguio City, La Trinidad, and Tabuk City and P340/day (P330 basic and P10 Cola) applicable in all other areas/municipalities of the region. And as provided, the P10 Cola in both minimum wage rates shall be integrated to the basic, starting May 1, 2020. This means that come May 1, 2020, the P350/day and P340/day minimum wage rates shall all be considered as basic pay.
A new provision in the wage order is that the two new minimum wage rates (P350 and P340) shall be enjoyed by all minimum wage earners depending on the place where they are working and regardless of the total number of workers their company has under its employ. It no longer matters if their company is employing more or less than 10 or a hundred workers. The new wage order no longer maintains this classification or category of minimum wage earners. Instead, all of them shall uniformly enjoy the new rate of P350/day if they are working in any company based in Baguio City, Tabuk City, and La Trinidad and P340/day in all other areas/municipalities in the region.
As provided by the law, any wage order issued is either the result of a petition for wage increase filed by an interested party or by the initiative of RTWPB after undergoing the wage fixing process.
Further information related to the issuance of the new wage order were provided by DOLE-CAR Dir. Exequiel Ronnie Guzman who is also the chairperson of RTWPB-CAR. He said that factors seriously considered by the RTWPB in deciding to issue a new wage order include the legal requirement that no minimum wage shall be lower than the poverty threshold (the amount needed by a family of five to buy the most basic necessities of life like food, shelter and clothing). And with P338 as the prevailing daily poverty threshold in our region, the minimum wage should be higher than this amount. That is why the lowest rate provided by the new wage order is P340/day.
Further factor considered was the issue on employers on how to maintain the employment of workers especially the good and productive ones. Dir. Guzman had the experience of some employers telling him that many of their good workers resigned and transferred to other regions like Regions I and II. This concern perhaps addressed through RB-CAR-20. With our new minimum wage of P340 and P350 per day, these are comparable to the highest daily minimum wage rates of P360 in Region II and P340 in Region I.
So what is it for the minimum wage earners? The increase may appear a modest one but still a benefit, a gift which means something to them. I wish it could be more but if so, can our employers afford to shoulder it? It may lead to a serious concern especially that micro enterprises, who generally pay their workers the minimum wage dominate our region’s employer-employee landscape.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority data,a total of 20,466 establishments are operating in our region with 18, 783 of them belonging to the micro enterprise group (those employing 10 and below). A little understanding may be necessary. What is perhaps important is the continuing effort of the government to adjust the level of wages every time the situation warrants it, and also not to discount the commendable effort of many employers including those from the Micro group who voluntarily increase the wages of their workers even without waiting for the issuance of a wage order.
An author of a book entitled Ethics said, “Work is the umbilical cord of life.” I agree, for what would happen to us if we don’t have work? Everything considered, the employers now have the obligation to implement RB-CAR-20.
Their workers, on the other hand, should reciprocate by giving their all in their work. Be productive even more for good performance leads to success, and successful firms usually give more benefits to their workers. To do otherwise may result in the workers being minimum wage earners for the longest time.