By DELIA BAGNI
BAGUIO CITY — The Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (Courage) vowed to intensify the demand for a National Minimum Wage and fight against contractualization amidst the escalating threats against progressive unions during their 10th national congress held at the Teachers Camp, here on April 5.
According to Courage national president Ferdinand Gaite, along with the national congress, Courage is also celebrating its 30th anniversary which was attended by more than 300 delegate-employees from various government offices around the country. Courage now has 200 unions with 300,000 members and still growing from the first seven unions in May 1986. Majority of government employees are affiliated with Courage under the banner of defending the state employees wage, decent jobs and union rights.
Gaite said that employees from National government agencies, Government owned and controlled Corporations (GOCC’s) Local Government Units (LGU’s), Water Districts, Legislative and Constitutional branches of government are not exempted from the worsening socio-economic conditions of the people under President Benigno Aquino III administration.
He added that under the Aquino regime government employees are calling for the passage of the P16,000 national minimum wage which is approximately the computed living wage. The passage of Executive Order 201 or the Salary Standardization Law (SSL4) benefits only the high-ranking officials more than the utility workers in the public sector.
He added that under EO 201 the mandated increase will not be given in full to the workers but in four equal yearly installments, which means that the P2,000 increase will be divided into four. Which is only about P500 a month or about P24 a day. While for top officials they will be receiving a large sum increase. For the president he will receive an increase of P388,000 almost P400,000 a month or about a 223 percent increase.
Gaite stated that another blow against government employees is the signing of EO No 203 or the adoption of a Compensation and Position Classification System (CPCS) and a General Index of Occupational Services (IOS) for the GOCC Sector. This would allow quasi-government corporations to raise their salaries to a level comparative to the private sector in line with the GOCC Governance Act of 2011 last March 15, 2016 which is very similar to EO 201.
National Food Authority Employees Association (NFEA) president Ramon Sanchez added that EO 203 a massacre to the employees because for an employee to be able to receive an increase he/she has to abolish or remove a fellow employee from his job which is a cannibalistic scheme of removing plantilla positions just to avail of the increase.
These schemes by government is the result of the neoliberal attack against workers for the benefit of capitalists. Twenty percent of the employees of some government agencies are now made up of non-regular emergency hires, job orders, casual and contractual workers without the assurance of permanent employment Gaite added.
Gaite together with other labor organization leaders call on fellow employees to further study the laws regarding workers benefits and rights, as well as unite their ranks to fight this against these underhanded schemes the government is orchestrating against workers.
In an earlier report, Courage said, “The last time Filipino workers got a relatively substantial increase of P89 in minimum wage was in July 1989, when the Philippine government enacted Republic Act 6727. Since then, it imposed multiple wage levels in the country that, after 25 years, the labor sector sees wage rationalization as just “a modus operandi to press down workers’ wages.”
The Regional Wage Boards issued a total of 275 wage orders from 1990 to present, giving just P1 to P20 cost of living allowances that were integrated to minimum wages only in the following year or so.” # nordis.net