By ALDWIN QUITASOL
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — The proposal for building a regional teachers’ union was presented to teachers in the 13 municipalities of the province.
In the Benguet Teachers Consultative Assembly, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers-Cordillera Administrative Region coordinator Perry John Mendoza said that the activity was to draw insights from the teachers especially the public school teachers of the province on proposals to advance their welfare. Mendoza added that from the teachers’ initiatives of organizing themselves into faculty associations, it will be most advantage to them to have a solid teachers organization to negotiate for their welfare like a worker’s union.
April Valentin C. Montes, Chief of Staff of the office of ACT Teachers Party list Antonio Tinio explained the context and legal basis for the formation of a regional teachers’ union.
He said that Article III section 8 of the Philippine Constitution guarantees the right of the teachers to organize themselves ino a union.
According to Montes, it is provided by the Constitution that the right of the people, including those employed in the public and private sectors, to form unions, associations, or societies for purposes not contrary to law shall not be abridged.
According to Montes, there are cases that teachers are like being prohibited by their administrators from forming organizations and unions. He said that according to the section 6 of the Executive Order numbered 180 of then President Corazon Aquino, government authorities shall not interfere in the establishment, functioning or administration of government employees’ organizations through acts designed to place such organizations under the control of government authority.
He added that their employment shall not be subject to the condition that they shall not join or shall relinquish their membership in the employees’ organizations.
Montes said that there should be at least more than 6,101 teachers to be able to form a union in CAR. “Meron nang mga schools na may unyon sa municipal or city level, pero mas maganda kung itataas natin sa regional level,” (There are schools that already have unions in the municipal or city level, but it is better if it will be on the regional level) He added.
National Capital Region ACT union President France Castro shared their experiences in forming their union, the first in the country. She told the participants what they gained from forming a union. She said they were able to demand for rice allowances and other benefits.
Castro explained why teachers need to form unions when they already have clubs and associations. She said once the teachers are into a union, they are recognized to negotiate for their rights and welfare with government. She said that they do this through the Collective Negotiation Agreement (CNA).
According to Castro, teachers have all reason to form their unionsr better working conditions. Public teachers she said are always overworked yet underpaid.
She cited some of the benefits that they can negotiate such as the hardship allowance. Hardship allowance she explained is like the hazard pay of workers in the private sector.
Bayan Muna Party List Representative Teddy Casiño delivered a message of support to the teachers’ assembly. He said that just like the support BM extends to ACT Teachers Party List in authoring bills, they are one with the teachers in their struggle to establish their unions at the regional levels.
In the afternoon, a similar activity was also held at 4:00 PM at the PFVR multipurpose hall with ACT-Metro-Baguio and the teachers’ groups in Baguio. Mendoza said that same activities will also be done in other provinces of the Cordillera region. # nordis.net