The Philippines: Education union mobilises against low pay

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers has firmly condemned what they see as Filipino public authorities’ anti-teacher statements and policies.

On 7 July, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), an EI affiliate in the Philippines, organised a gathering in front of the Department of Education (DepEd) in Manila to protest against DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones’ stance on teacher pay.

Low salaries

The ACT had previously written to Briones seeking improved terms and conditions for teachers. However, “Secretary Briones’ letter of response to the ACT proves that she has no appreciation for teachers’ rights and welfare,” said Benjamin Valbuena, National Chairperson of the ACT. “She repeated her statement that teachers are well compensated and shall not receive local allowances and additional teaching supplies allowances.”

According to ACT, teachers are underpaid and receive a meagre salary –  entry level teachers receive PHP 24,399.40 (€420) monthly, including basic pay, a personal economic relief allowance, and a subsidy for staff benefit contributions.

Teacher wage insufficient for decent living conditions

The government calculates differently, and asserts that teachers receive PHP 27,000 (€472) per month as entry level pay, including a mid-year bonus, year-end bonus, clothing allowance, productivity enhancement incentive and cash gifts to teachers’ annual pay divided into 12 months.

Valbuena disputes this figure, adding that the mid-year bonus, year-end bonus, clothing allowance, productivity enhancement incentive and cash gifts are temporary benefits and not included in the calculation of teachers’ retirement pensions. These benefits should not be included in calculating monthly base salary of teachers, he said.

“Instead of protecting our rights and welfare, the Secretary of Education is the first to deny these to us, eventually contributing to the poor economic situation and sacrifices of teachers under the deteriorating K-to-12 education system in our country,” said Valbuena. Teachers and the education sector as a whole will continue to “call for just and decent pay and benefits”, he added.

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