The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines lauded the Senate’s move yesterday to double the allotment for pay hike of government employees for 2020. The group, however, said that they will continue to demand for three things: retention of the higher pay hike allocation in the bicameral version of the budget up to the President’s approval; a distribution scheme that gives premium to rank-and-file employees; and salary increase legislation that will secure the completion of their demand for P30,000 monthly base pay for teachers.
The Senate reportedly added P32 billion to the P31.1 billion original allotment for salary increase of public sector workers next year as the body approved on third reading the P4.1 trillion national budget for 2020. The Congress bicameral conference on the 2020 budget will start next week.
“We thank our senators for heeding the clamor of our teachers and all employees in the public sector. This initial victory is a good start for our fight for decent salaries but a lot of work still needs to be done,” said Joselyn Martinez, ACT National Chairperson.
ACT also welcomed the move of the Senate to grant the hiking of the entry-level pay of public sector nurses to P30,000 per Supreme Court decision on the issue.
“We are hopeful that our nurses will finally receive what is due them since the passing of the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002. It is also a favorable measure for teachers as it boosts the justness of our demand to receive the same salary level as our professions have relatively similar qualifications and workload,” Martinez furthered.
Martinez said that public school teachers will continue the fight to ensure that these gains will be retained in the bicameral version of the budget, until the President signs the General Appropriations Act of 2020. She also underlined that they will be vigilant of the distribution scheme that will be drawn up by the government.
“We have to make sure that this will not be a repeat of the past inequitable salary standardization laws, instead, this should be used as an opportunity to bridge the gap between the pay of the rank-and-file employees and top government officials,” stressed Martinez.
Martinez explained that the P63 billion budget for pay hike could yield a monthly salary increase of less than P3,000 if divided equally among the more than 1.5 million government workers. It is still a far cry from their demand of increasing the current P20,754 monthly salary of Teacher I to P30,000.
“We urge the Congress to immediately pass the legislation that will complete our demand for decent salaries and remedy the distortion in government pay scheme brought about by the one-sided doubling of the uniformed personnel’s base pay,” pressed Martinez.
ACT sees the budgetary adjustment as their initial victory, which is a product of teachers’ and all government workers’ sustained campaign to press for substantial salary increase. Amid red-tagging and harassment against their organization, ACT has consistently pressed for the fulfillment of the Duterte government’s promise to double teachers’ salaries through petitions, lobbying, social media campaign, and street protests.
“This only proves the importance of holding on to our right to free speech, association, and peaceful assembly to petition the government for the redress of our grievances. Time and again we have proven the potency and the inalienability of our political rights to the furtherance of our economic rights,” Martinez stated.
ACT sets to hold a lantern parade that depicts their demands in December 10, International Human Rights Day.