The General Alliance of Worker's Association will file a petition before the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board to seek an increase in the daily minimum wage of workers in the private sector in Western Visayas by P85 per day.
The petition signed by its chairperson, Emmanuel Bandola, asked the RTWPB to adjust the salaries of farm workers in non-agricultural, industrial/commercial from P287 to P372, for workers in agricultural/plantation from P255 to P330, and for plantation workers from P245 to P317 per day.
Wennie Sancho, labor representative to the RTWPB and executive director of GAWA, said they are concerned that the farm workers will be displaced during the country's full integration into the Asean Free Trade Area agreement by 2015, that will reduce the tariff on sugar imports entering the Philippines to a nominal 5 percent.
He said they are apprehensive of the entry of transnational corporations in the agricultural sector when that happens because they will determine which crop to plant, decide the farm gate price and practically, own the land.
We are concerned about the continuity of employment of sugar workers, which for us unfortunately, is not being mentioned by our political leaders, producers and stakeholders in the sugar industry, Sancho said.
Sancho said the sugar workers are not being given due consideration and priority in the transformation of the sugar industry.
He said they have asked Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon to help them form a task force for the sugar industry that will focus on the transformation of the industry and help address the problems in 2015.
On the assurance of the Sugar Regulatory Administration and Department of Labor and Employment of their support, Sancho said they appreciate their help but they need concrete measures that will lessen the burden and cushion the impact of AFTA.
Councilor Wilson Gamboa Jr, said the labor sector together with the Church, academe and all stakeholders, should set discussions on two prevailing and pressing issues, globalization and land reform, towards uplifting Negros and Bacolod from a backward agricultural economy to newly industrialized economy and a model of efficiency.
Gamboa was one of the speakers in the conference organized by GAWA.*CGS
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