State weathermen, S&T workers protest scrapping of allowances under new SSL
MANILA, Philippines — The entire staff of the state weather bureau turned out for their protest action against the proposed Salary Standardization Law (SSL), which would scrap their allowances while increasing their salaries.
At the flag ceremony Monday, officials and rank and file employees alike of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) wore black armbands over white shirts to dramatize their protest.
During lunch, employees staged a sit-down rally at the PAGASA Forecasting Center to denounce the proposed SSL. Protest streamers were also prominently displayed outside the PAGASA compound in Quezon City.
The Philippine Weathermen Employees Association (PWEA) that represents some 900 technical and non-technical personnel of PAGASA, denounced the proposed SSL for repealing Republic Act 8439.
The 1997 Magna Carta for Science and Technology (S&T) workers in government granted additional benefits such as hazard allowance, subsistence allowance and longevity pay to dissuade state scientists, researchers, engineers and other science workers from seeking higher-paying jobs abroad.
“The provision to repeal RA 8439 is a threat to the economic well-being not only of PAGASA employees but to all S&T workers in government,” PWEA president Ramon Agustin said.
The Magna Carta benefits are higher than the salary increase provided for in the proposed SSL over a period of four years, from 2016 to 2019, according to Ramon Agustin.
“We will absolutely oppose those provisions (that will repeal the Magna Carta) to protect our rights,” Agustin stressed.
Personnel of other agencies of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) simultaneously held protest actionsMonday.
The United DOST Employees Association said 4,850 or 88 per cent of its 5,485 workforce would not get any real salary hike under the SSL due to the loss of their benefits.
It said that in the first year of implementation, 99 per cent of its personnel would suffer pay cuts.
Joy Lazcano, president of the Science and Technology Information Institute Employees Association, said that under the SSL, a worker with Salary Grade 13 would only get a P3,700-increase over four years, but would lose more than P5,000 in monthly benefits.
“The (Magna Carta) has been in existence since 1998 but it was only funded through the General Appropriations Act only recently. We are on the verge of returning to the old days when we virtually begged for funding,” Agustin said.
Groups of S&T workers in government will keep up the protest actions until Wednesday, when the Senate and the House of Representatives are scheduled to finalize the SSL during a bicameral conference, according to Agustin.
State weathermen plan to hold a noise barrage at the PAGASA Forecasting Center during lunch break on Wednesday.
“There is no work slowdown. We will never do that. We are still performing our duties,” Agustin said. SFM
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