Day of Mourning
‘Overworked, underpaid, overtaxed’ public teachers demand pay hike
AS they are supposed to be honored on the celebration of the World Teacher’s Day yesterday, 3,000 teachers who are affiliated with the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (Act)-negros went on a mass leave yesterday to ventilate their grievances over the plight of the Filipino teachers who are suffering from the severe condition of being overworked, underpaid and overtaxed.
ACT Negros President Gualberto Dajao gathered all the members for a protest action yesterday, which they dubbed as “Day of Mourning.”
Some 2,000 teachers marched from Rizal Elementary School down to the old City Hall grounds and vowed to stage higher forms of protest in the coming days should the government remained deaf on their demands for a salary increase to a minimum of P30,000 per month.
Instead of holding classes, the said teachers from Bacolod City and nearby localities in Talisay, Silay, Bago, and Murcia, went on a “mass leave” to commemorate the World Teachers’ Day.
They called the commemoration as “lesson plan-free day,” noting that the black shirts they are wearing spoke “sadness” amid the challenges hounding teachers nowadays.
In the morning, they staged a boodle fight at Rizal Elementary School yesterday morning to send a message that teachers are currently experiencing “hunger” given their meager salary as provided by the government.
Dajao said the teachers’ load has become more and more burdensome over the years as the Department of Education has been implementing work policies that demand greater time and efforts. Most often, assignments to the preparation of urgent reports and paperwork that are no longer related to the teaching profession.
This has deprived the teachers to have adequate time to rest, denying teachers of considerable time to prepare for their daily lessons and most of all causing a very stressful experience, he said.
Family matters are even put aside to give priority to work assignments. All these miseries are justified in the name of “exigency of the service.”
The Department of Education seemed to have neglected the fact that teachers are human beings too and are also entitled to basic labor rights. Teachers cannot refuse even though they are performing the job beyond the legal working hours for fear of getting low in the performance appraisal, Dajao said, adding that Deped adopts a foreign designed result-based performance management system (RPMS) and the Philippine Professional Standard for Teachers (PPST) that apply systematic mechanism of oppressing teachers.
While teachers are greatly exhausted from too much work, most of them just received salaries that are not enough, he stressed.
Most of the teachers have a minimum take-home pay of P5,000 which is far below the requirement of a decent living that the National Economic Development Authority (Neda) estimated at P42,000 for a family of five.
This has made the Filipino teachers the lowest paid among the Asean counterparts.
As a result, teachers could hardly send their children to college and thus they become easy preys to lending and loan sharks.
This condition has made teachers perpetual captives of debt slavery. “In most cases, to accomplish added responsibilities, teachers are even obliged to spend their own money for classroom decorations and bulletin boards, for school beautification, for students’ activities, for fellow teachers who are in dire need and even for food to feed the hungry students because of severe poverty,” Dajao said.
Adding to the miseries of teachers and government employees is the burden of taxation brought about by the implementation of the tax reform law. “While low ranking teachers and government employees are exempted from withholding tax, prices of basic goods and services continue to rise,” he added.
Teachers were made to believe that withholding tax exemption will increase their take home pay but in reality, they brought home lesser than before the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) was implemented.
The public teachers called on the government to abolish the Train law.
“All these factors affect the delivery of quality education. Teachers are made as scapegoats for the failures of the students to improve their academic performances while education officials are covering up the gross negligence of the State to provide for the basic requirements of quality education that include salary of teachers and personnel, school buildings, laboratories, and other facilities, books and other learning materials for the learners,” Dajao said./with reports from Erwin P. Nicavera
PUBLIC school teachers troop to the Fountain of Justice in Bacolod City Friday to demand a salary increase.