Public Servants in the Cordillera Close Ranks

Northern Dispatch
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BAGUIO CITY — In a forum November 4, here on the theme “Reinvigorate our ranks, advance our cause”, government employees discussed present issues and concerns in their different lines of work.

Government employees from the city local government units (LGU) as well as regional offices of different government departments and non-teaching staff of state universities and member unions and individuals of the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (Courage) unified their ranks to uphold their rights as workers in the public sector.

After a long period of silence, the local chapter of Courage spearheaded the activity and gathered consensus to reactivate the militant umbrella of government employees’ unions and associations here.

According to the Courage-Cordillera Administrative Region Chapter, government employees here in the region just like their co-government employees in the rest of the country suffer from economic and political marginalization.

Courage explained that majority of them are receiving salaries that cannot cope with the continuous rise in prices of basic commodities and services, especially those with a family of six. Courage added that since many of them have no unions and associations, they have no bargaining power to negotiate for a Collective Negotiation Agreement (CNA) to push for their labor rights.

The main speaker of the forum, Courage National Chairperson Ferdinand Gaite gave updates on the situation of Philippine government employees. According to Gaite, there is a big difference in the situation of rank-and-file employees and their higher-ups.

Gaite said government department bosses receive scandalously high salaries and bonuses as reported in the news, the rank-and-file employees receive government pegged salaries and benefits.

Gaite said government employees are threatened by many factors. Among these is the threat to their security of tenure. Though they have given 5 or more years of service they still are not regular employees.

One employee from the LGU cited the case of employees in one of the parks of the city. The government employees there are contractuals or casuals. He added that many times, their salaries, aside from being low, are delayed.

According to Gaite, government employees face the threat of displacement because of contractualization, privatization and abolition of some government agencies.

He said with these thrusts of the government, many government employees would be rendered jobless and their families would go hungry. Basic services would be compromised as privatized agencies would be run primarily for profit by private entities and companies.

Regarding the issues surrounding the Government Security Insurance System (GSIS), Gaite said, while the controversial former GSIS czar Winston Garcia was replaced, the unfair policies that stripped off government employees of their benefits and rights still continue to be implemented. In addition, he said, Garcia who is “the mastermind of the money-making and other scrupulous policies” at the GSIS is still not being investigated and held liable for the deprivation caused on GSIS members.

Gaite explained that as provided by the International Labor Organization (ILO) Conventions, government employees have the right to organize themselves and form unions and have CNAs.

Gaite said they have also the right to be represented in the House of Representatives so that their particular concerns and demands are integrated into the legislative processes. He expressed regrets over the decision of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) disapproving the application for accreditation of Courage as a partylist that should have enabled it to participate in the recent national elections.

Comelec said government employees did not consider government employees as belonging to the marginalized sectors. “What is ridiculous is that the Comelec, in not approving the application of Courage, said government employees do not belong to the marginalized sectors but they allowed Mikey Arroyo who is very rich be the representative of security guards,” said Gaite.

Gaite said that Courage even if it was initially denied accreditation by the Comelec would still file its intention to participate as a party-list group in the 2013 national elections. In the meantime, he said, Courage would continue to organize public servants and uphold their rights and welfare toward the realization of a just social system. Posted by (

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