Labor Groups Say 10% Pay Hike Not Enough

Labor groups welcome the Executive Order 611 providing for a 10 percent salary adjustment for government employees, but insist this is not enough and only favors high ranking government officials.

BY AUBREY MAKILAN
Bulatlat

Labor groups welcome the Executive Order 611 providing for a 10 percent salary adjustment for government employees, but insist this is not enough and only favors high ranking government officials.

Not enough

��Like a trickle in a bucket after a long dry spell” was how the Confederation for the Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) described Executive Order 611 implementing a 10 percent salary adjustment for government employees.

Ferdinand Gaite, COURAGE National President, said the pay hike was a welcome relief for the 1.4 million state workers, he said, but it is not enough to make a substantial difference in lives of crisis-stricken employees.

Based on COURAGE’s computations, the adjustment translates to a measly P508.20 ($10.55 at an exchange rate of $1=P48.16) a month increase for a salary grade 1 employee who receives a monthly gross pay of P5, 082 ($105). The gross pay excludes mandatory deductions such as the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) premium contributions, withholding tax, PAG-IBIG housing and Philippine Health Insurance (PhilHealth). Workers under the salary grade 1 category include metro aides, drivers, clerks, postal workers, printing workers, and administrative employees.

Favorable to officials

For COURAGE and Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), a percentage increase in wage only favors those receiving more such as cabinet secretaries, assistant secretaries, undersecretaries and other heads and officials of agencies who normally receive allowances and other perks on top of their regular salaries.

Lito Ustarez, KMU executive vice president, said that an official receiving a monthly salary of P50, 000 ($1,038.20) will receive an additional P5,000 (103.82) compared to those rank-and-file workers who will get a mere P508 ($10.55).

“This is the flaw in percentage increases which are biased against rank-and-file employees,” said Ustarez.

Although the KMU leader welcomed the increase, he stressed that EO 611 will further widen the gap between the incomes of rank-and-file workers and those in managerial positions.

Stealing?

Meanwhile, Gaite revealed that part of the pork barrel of lawmakers in the 2007 budget was allegedly taken from the allotment for the retirement pay of government workers.

“To take the increase from the budget allotted for the retirement of government employees is stealing from us not just once but twice. It is simply criminal!” he said.

The labor leader added that those who voluntarily retired or were forced to retire due to the reorganization program of the government last year have yet to receive in full their retirement pay despite a promised budgetary allotment.

“We have been demanding for a P3, 000 ($62.29) across-the-board salary increase to alleviate the plight of the lowest paid employees and benefit the majority who on the average receives P8, 000 ($166.11) monthly,” he said. “This is clearly an injustice to the workers who run the mills of government. We have waited for so long and yet received so little.”

Ustarez said that KMU supported the push for a legislated Php 3,000 ($166.11) across-the-board salary increase because “it is biased for ordinary employees.”

“If the across-the-board increase is made into law, salary grade 1 workers will receive a 509 percent salary increase while Arroyo receives a six percent increase,” said Ustarez.

Timing questioned

Labor leaders also questioned the timing of the pay hike.

Gaite, who is also the fifth nominee of Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Party list, said the pay hike was the first increase after more than six years. He added that the last pay hike was in July 2001 and was pegged at only five percent. Since then, he said prices of basic commodities have gone up making the five percent increase useless.

For Ustarez, he said the pay hike “is a clear abuse of power and position during election period.” He added that this move is “a stark reminder of how the regime will use all available materials for their selfish gain.”

Ustarez said that this will be used allegedly for campaign mileage since the Team Unity was “getting trashed” in most election surveys and mock polls.(Bulatlat.com)

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