State workers hope Senate will approve just wage hike
MANILA, Philippines — Public school teachers and other government workers are now pinning their hopes on the Senate for a substantial salary increase after the House appropriations committee’s “sly approval” of the proposed 2020 national budget.
House appropriations chair and Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab disclosed on Monday that, in a closed-door session, they had unanimously endorsed the budget, which included P31 billion for a new round of wage hikes—an amount public sector unions have denounced as inadequate.
“The House committee has just robbed us of hope like a thief in the night,” said Joselyn Martinez, Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) chair.
“We were banking on the 2020 budget deliberations to give our just demand for substantial salary increase a fair chance but our legislators failed us,” Martinez said.
Picket at Senate
Members of ACT and other workers under the All Government Employees (GE) Union stormed the Senate gates on Tuesday to hold a picket before joining the Senate hearing on the pay hike.
Teachers’ groups that have called for their entry-level salary to be raised from P20,754 to P30,000 are acutely aware of the short window they have to convince lawmakers to heed to their demands, and have mounted an aggressive lobbying campaign.
The groups are straining to avoid a repeat of the last salary increase under former President Benigno Aquino III, whose executive order on the matter granted them an annual raise of only P500 over four years.
If the amount for a salary increase approved by the appropriations committee was distributed evenly among all government workers, ACT pointed out that it would add up to a raise of less than P2,000 in their monthly salaries.
At least 10 bills related to a salary increase for civil servants have been filed in the Senate, and several of the legislators, including Senators Sonny Angara and Sherwin Gatchalian, have advocated for at least a P10,000 pay hike for teachers.
The Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) expressed hope that the Senate would be more deliberative.
“It is very disappointing that the House committee rashly approved as hearings the budget briefings that were conducted in the last few weeks,” said AHW president Robert Mendoza.
Aside from the P10,000 pay raise for teachers and nurses, the GE Union has also called for a minimum wage of P16,000 for all government workers, some of whom currently receive under P10,000.
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