The biggest alliance of government employees said that the P10,000 ($202.88) Christmas bonus that they are set to receive is supposed to be a welcome respite but is actually a ‘double-edged sword’.
The Confederation for the Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) said that the bonus they are set to receive is ‘meant to sweeten the bitter pill of impending lay-offs and an attempt to ‘bribe’ employees to keep them off the streets on December 12.
December 12 is the scheduled interfaith rally against the renewed push for Charter change.
Ferdinand Gaite, COURAGE National President said the timing of the announcement of the P10,000 or $202.88 (based on the exchange rate of $1: P49.289) bonus by Malacanang is suspect. He said that the announcement of the granting of bonuses usually comes just before December 15.
“Obviously, the administration is on a defensive and would do anything to keep government employees from joining the protests against the charter change and term extension maneuverings,” Gaite said.
Of the P10,000 bonus, P7,000 or $142.02 would come from the national government and P3,000 or $60.86 from the respective agencies.
Gaite said the announcement came also at the heels of a massive bureaucracy-wide lay-off set to be implemented by the national government before the year ends.
He said that the implementation of the Executive Order 366 would displace hundreds of thousands of government employees. Executive Order 366 issued October 4, 2004 calls for a review of the operations of government agencies as part of the rationalization plan of the bureaucracy.
Gaite disclosed, “At the National Food Authority alone, 30 percent or at least 2,000 regular, tenured employees are set to lose their jobs; more than 1,000 from the Quedancor; hundreds from DENR [Department of Environment and Natural Resources] Regions IV-A and B.
He also said that 46 out of the 600 employees of the National Parks Development Committee, employees of Golden Acres, and the Reception and Study Center for Children of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) would also be displaced by the proposed transfer and privatization of these offices.
Gaite said, “We cannot be grateful to a President who is responsible in freezing our salaries to starvation levels and in constantly undermining our jobs and job security… Pres. [Gloria Macapagal-] Arroyo herself has insulted government employees with her statement that employees with full stomachs will not ask for a raise. A substantial salary increase has been long overdue. And it can never be replaced with a P10,000 bonus.”
The group has been pushing for a P3,000 or $60.86 across-the-board salary increase for government employees.
The Arroyo government granted a ten-percent hike in January 2007 and another 10 percent hike in July this year.
With the latest salary hike, a Salary Grade 1 employee only received an additional P546.80 or $11.09 monthly. Minus deductions, the increase in take home pay of employees falling under this level amounts to a mere P361.12 or $7.33.
Salary Grade 10 where the majority of government employees belong only got a P1,049.50 or $21.29 increase. Minus deductions the actual increase in their take home pay amounts to P618.52 or $12.55.
The estimated daily living wage as of March this year is P858 or $17.41.
Gaite said, “The government is mistaken if they thought that the bonus would sway employees into supporting charter change and even Arroyo’s term extension.”
He said they would join the broad nationally-coordinated rally against charter change on December 12. (Bulatlat.com)