Manila teachers dance Zumba to call for pay hikes
Dancing to an upbeat remix of “Take Me to Your Heart” by Michael Learns to Rock, Manila public school teachers staged a “Zumba protest” early Sunday morning to call for pay hikes in the education sector.
In line with the upcoming World Teachers’ Day celebration on Oct. 5, around 30 teachers and members of the Manila Public School Teachers Association took part in the creative protest in front of the Schools Division Office-Manila in Arroceros Park.
Following the instructor’s dance steps, the teachers clad in black shirts with the message “Salary Increase Now” chanted their demands: higher wages and a bigger education budget.
Ruby Bernardo, president of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) National Capital Region union, said the group hoped to show through the Zumba protest that they were strengthening their bodies in preparation for the Oct. 5 mobilizations focusing on the call for salary increases.
“We believe that the concert alone is not enough to thank the teachers,” Bernardo said, referring to a concert organized by Malacañang on Sunday evening to honor teachers for their “relentless passion and dedication to educate learners.”
“The best way for the Marcos-Duterte [administration] to honor our teachers is to grant substantial salary increases, improved benefits, and decent working conditions,” she added.
P50K a month
The teachers are calling for an increase in the entry-level pay of their sector from P27,000 to a minimum of P50,000 per month.
They also want the minimum salary for education support staff at P33,000 per month and the upgrading of the entry-level salary grade of instructors in state universities and colleges to Salary Grade 16, equivalent to a P39,672 monthly pay.
To improve the benefits for education workers, the teachers also appealed for the provision of free medical checkups and treatment, an increase in instructional allowance, and compensation for teaching overload, among others.
Furthermore, the teachers urged the government to solve the perennial problems in their sector, such as shortages in facilities and resources, and to abolish confidential funds in agencies with no need for them and divert the money instead to education and other basic social services.
“These demands are not solely for the benefit of teachers, but inclusively for the sake of the whole education sector and nation,” Bernardo said.
Asked about the benefits the teachers could expect from the Department of Education, Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte said in a chance interview on Sept. 25 that a 30-day break during the end-of-school year was in store for them.
“For the school year 2023 to 2024, we already have a 30-day break just like the 15 sick leaves and 15 vacation leaves of other government employees because our teachers do not have those,” she said. INQ