Public school teachers press gov’t for wage hike

(Photo by A. Umil/ Bulatlat.com)
(FILE PHOTO by A. Umil/ Bulatlat.com)

“The Aquino administration should no longer drag its heels in effecting a new round of salary increases for around 1.4 million employees in government.”

By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Public school teachers under the Alliance of Concerned Teachers – National Capital Region Union (ACT-NCR Union) stormed the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) central office in Manila to reiterate their call for salary increase, a demand last heeded by the Arroyo administration.

The teachers lamented that amid the soaring prices of commodities, the salaries of government employees remained stagnant in the past five years under President Aquino.

“We are calling on the Aquino government and Secretary Florencio Abad of DBM to hear our long-standing call for just and decent pay,” said Benjamin Valbuena, ACT-NCR Union president.

Salary standardization Law

In a report, Budget secretary Abad said P50.6 billion ($1 billion) of the P3 trillion 2016 budget was proposed to be allocated for government workers’ salary increases next year, for possible implementation of the fourth tranche under the Salary Standardization Law (SSL4).

“The Aquino administration should no longer drag its heels in effecting a new round of salary increases for around 1.4 million employees in government,” said ACT Teachers’ Partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio.

“Going by the mandate in the Salary Standardization Law, it is already delayed in granting pay hikes to government workers and giving economic relief especially to low- and middle-level employees,” said Tinio in a statement.

The Salary Standardization Law mandates a review of the pay structure for government workers “every three years, taking into account…the possible erosion in the purchasing power due to inflation, and other factors.”

The SSL was implemented under the Arroyo administration, and the third tranche was released in 2012. The new pay structure and pay hikes are due this year, Tinio said.

Tinio also noted that, while there is a P50.6 billion in the 2016 budget under the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund for “Lump Sum for Compensation Adjustment,” the Aquino administration has not presented its concrete proposal for a new compensation structure to replace the SSL 3.

If Aquino rejects the salary increase proposal, which is yet to be presented to him, the amount would be treated as savings, and could be realigned for other purposes.

Inadequate

ACT, the broadest alliance of teachers in the Philippines, have been pushing for an increase of the entry level salary for teachers from P18,549 ($400) to P25,000 ($539), and for the increase of the entry level salary for non-teaching personnel from P9,000 ($194) to P16,000 ($345).

Valbuena pointed out that the present salary of teachers and government employees is inadequate, with the family living wage is pegged at P31,620 ($682) per month.

Public school teachers under ACT have consistently lobbied for salary increase, and staged two sit-down strikes and several on-line campaigns in the social media.

Considering that the Aquino government should have granted pay hikes this year, Tinio added that any pay hikes should be implemented beginning January 2016 and not in July, as in the past salary adjustments.

“The last increase in our salary was in 2012, and there is no reason for the Aquino government and DBM not to hear our loud call for a salary hike, urgently needed for us to afford decent and quality living,” said Valbuena.

The group cited Section 5, Article 14 of the 1987 Constitution which says, “The State shall enhance the right of teachers to professional advancement. Non-teaching academic and non-academic personnel shall enjoy the protection of the State.”

Number 5 of the same section said that “The State shall assign the highest budgetary priority to education and ensure that teaching will attract and retain its rightful share of the best available talents through adequate remuneration and other means of job satisfaction and fulfilment.”

The group urged Aquino to certify as urgent House Bill 246 which aims to peg the entry pay of state colleges and universities pay at P26,878 ($580) per month and House Bill 245 for salary increase of public school teachers and non-teaching personnel.

Valbuena said the teachers will intensify the campaign for salary increase, and are gearing for a third nationally-coordinated sit-down strike on Sept. 8. ()

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