“This is a strike for justice to all teachers and employees. This is a strike against a deaf, blind and insensitive government.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – There will be a nationwide one-day sit down strike of public school teachers on Nov. 14, Friday calling it “a strike for justice to all teachers and employees.”
“We have exhausted all possible means but this government still does not listen to our demands. We have laid down our basis, we have given President Benigno S. Aquino III enough time to consider our call and since it seems that he does not care at all, then we have no choice but to heighten our protest. We are now going to stage a nationwide sit-down strike,” Benjie Valbuena, president of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) said.
“The time has come. We are ready and determined to get what is due to us. On Nov. 14, with our members in the National Capital Region in the lead, a one-day sit down strike in our public elementary and high schools will happen,” said Valbuena. “This is a strike for justice. This is a strike against a deaf, blind and insensitive government.”
Public school teachers are demanding an increase of P25,000 ($557) from the current 18,549 ($413) a month and P15,000 ($334) from the current P9,000 a month ($200).
Louie Zabala, president of the Manila Public School Teachers Association (MPSTA), said the strike is not just for the salary increase of teachers and non-teaching personnel but also to strengthen the call for an increase in the budget for the education sector. “That is our ultimate goal because it still boils down to how we can attain quality education – by increasing the education budget.”
“This sit-down strike is just part of our campaign dubbed ‘Strike for Salary Increase and Quality Education, Strike against Pork and Corruption.’ Should President Aquino remain inutile and apathetic, we will intensify and heighten our justifiable clamor for salary increase through mass leave or strike,” Zabala said.
On their one-day sit down strike, teachers will still come to school but will not teach for the whole day of Nov. 14. Instead, they will hold short programs to explain to the students why are they on strike while some schools will hold a noise barrage. “Like a worker who is resisting the inhumane labor practices against his employer, the teachers too will show their resistance against the government that has remained deaf to our long time call,” Zabala in an interview with Bulatlat.com.
Asked if there is a possibility that they would be sanctioned due to the one-day strike, Zabala said, “We will not be abandoning our class. We will still be inside our schools only that we are not going to teach that day. So there will be no violation of our sworn duty.”
He said in Manila, 85 out of 103 schools have committed to join the one-day sit down strike on Nov. 14. “We have exhausted all means since Aquino took over the presidency in 2010. President Aquino has become the top enemy of public school teachers and employees as he refuses to grant a salary increase. He even scrapped our P2,000 ($45) Productivity Incentive Benefit and slashed our P10,000 ($223) Productivity Enhancement Incentive in 2012. He is anti-teacher, anti-employee, anti-people,” Zabala explained.
Zabala said several other school divisions have committed to participate on the Friday strike including Quezon City, Muntinlupa, Makati and Mandaluyong among many others. Other regions such as Region 6 and Southern Tagalog as well as provinces in Mindanao will also participate.
The International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS) expressed support to the teachers’ sit-down strike and criticized Aquino for not acting on the teachers’ long time demand.
“President Aquino’s gross neglect of teachers’ pay compelled them to call for a one-day sit-down strike. The Philippine chapter of ILPS calls on its local and global affiliates to press for their long-standing demand,” the group said in a statement.