Negros Labor Official Urges ‘Emergency Relief’ for Workers

Sancho’s statement came after Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) VI Director Aida Estabello claimed wage compliance in the region is 72 percent, although this was based only on 129 establishments “visited.”

Sancho disclosed that of the total 21,028 wholesale and retail businesses in the region, 20,909 are micro-enterprises with 10-99 workers; 95 are medium enterprises with 100-199 workers; and only 16 are big enterprises with 200 and more workers.

Under labor laws, Sancho explained, micro-enterprises, including cooperative-run enterprises, can apply for exemption from wage order coverage, provided that they show their records and must formally apply for exemption.

“The data shows that practically 99.5 percent of businesses in the region with an estimated workforce of at least 630,000 are already automatically or can easily get exemption from wage order implementation; this leaves us only 111 with estimated 22,200 workers who will be subjected to wage order implementation,” Sancho said.

Sancho said if those in the agricultural sector are taken into account, the number of those exempted could increase considerably given its rampant practice of contractualization, “pakyao” system (piecemeal work) and other labor flexibility schemes, especially in sugar plantations farms.

Big business can afford wage hike

“Majority are already automatically exempted, while the few big ones can still maneuver or negotiate for crumbs of increase,” Sancho lamented.

“If we really be factual and sincere about the wage orders, they are practically nothing because many are exempted, and those that are not, have low compliance rate,” the labor official added.

Despite these, Sancho appeals to the business sector to be considerate and human enough to share with their laborers the fruits of their hard labor. “We are your partners in your economic growth because without us your capital would be useless; so, give us a just share in your profit,” he said.

The labor official also urged the local government units especially the DoLE to help ensure that employers comply with their economic obligations to their workers by undertaking effective monitoring and enforcement campaign.

Sancho particularly encouraged LGUs to put up some kind of “Task Force Bantay Sweldo (Wage Watch)” with sufficient logistical support to undertake the monitoring and enforcement of wage compliance among businesses in their respective areas of responsibility, and initiate support services for workers. (

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