Rank-and-file employees will get only up to 22 percent increase, while the President gets 233 percent raise.
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA — Public health workers rejected President Aquino’s announced salary increase for 2016, saying it is a “cheap election move to buy off state workers.”
“This is a far cry from the government employees’ demand. Obviously this has something to do with the 2016 national elections, so that candidates of the Liberal party will get votes,” said Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) president Robert Mendoza.
In a press conference on Tuesday, Nov. 10, the Alliance of Health Workers and other employees unions from private hospitals expressed their dismay, calling the increase mumo (crumbs). They assert that the government should heed their demand of P16,000 ($341) salary increase for government employees, P25,000 ($532) for teachers and nurses. They also reiterated their demand to increase salaries of private workers from P481 ($10) minimum wage to P750 ($16).
On Nov.9, Aquino endorsed the Salary Standardization Law 2015 increasing salaries of government employees, starting January next year. The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said the increase amounts to 45 percent of the salary, and will be given in four tranches for four years.
Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad said, in a statement in the Official Gazette website, the minimum salary (salary grade 1) shall be raised from P9,000 ($192) to P11,068 ($236) monthly. Meanwhile, higher position levels who receive salary grades 18-30 pay should reach 70 percent of market rates.
‘No to installment scheme’
Mendoza said the salary increase of government employees will be hardly felt because it will be given in tranches. He said the P2,068 ($44) increase of government employees receiving P9,000 a month will still be divided into four years, or an increase of only P517 ($11) a year. For example, for 2016, a government employee will receive P9,517 ($203).
“These supposed increases are insignificant to the eroding purchasing equivalent of our wages brought about by continuing rising costs or prices of basic commodities, housing and social services,” said Mendoza.
He also said that the measly increase would only be spent on taxes. He said, while Aquino remains callous to calls to lower income tax.
“So like the past increases, this will mean nothing to ordinary government employees because the increase is so inadequate for their needs. Family living wage is pegged at P31,000 ($660) a month for a family of five. How can we live on P11,068?” Mendoza said in an interview with Bulatlat.com.
Meanwhile, ACT Teachers’ Partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio said government employees occupying low and middle-level positions are the biggest losers under the Aquino administration’s proposal for salary increases, while those in top posts and already enjoying high pay, including the President, are the most favored.
In a statement, Tinio said the increase is a mere P24 ($.50) per day for the ordinary public school teacher.
From the current P18,549 ($395) the monthly salaries for entry-level teachers or Teacher I will be raised to P19,077 ($406) in 2016, P19,620 ($417) in 2017, P20,179 ($430) in 2018, and P20,754 ($442) in 2019.
Tinio said after three years without a pay hike, this amounts to a mere 12 percent increase over the next four years for those who comprise over one-third of the government bureaucracy. The paltry hike will not even counter the decline in the real value of money caused by inflation, which was three to four percent from 2013 to 2015, and would probably be much higher in 2016 to 2019.
“Public school teachers, nurses, and rank-and-file employees will receive the lowest share of increase under Aquino’s SSL 2015, ranging from 11 percent to 22 percent over the next four years. On the other hand, for executive-level positions, pay increases are 77 percent for salary grade 25, up to a whopping 233 percent, for salary grade 33, the President of the Philippines,” said Tinio.
He added that it is true that there will be a mid-year bonus equivalent to a month’s salary and a Performance-Based Bonus equivalent to the salary for one up to two months.
“It is clear that when it comes to basic pay, government employees in the lowest up to the middle-level positions are disadvantaged while those occupying higher positions are greatly favored under the proposed SSL 2015 of President Aquino.”
“We reject this crumb,” said Sean Velchez, Philippine Orthopedic Center employees’ union president. He said instead of becoming a statesman, Aquino showed that he is just being a politician.
“This is vote buying. If he thinks that we will vote for candidates of the Liberal Party then he is mistaken. We will not buy it,” Velchez told Bulatlat.com in an interview.