The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines has led 500 teachers in an “SG 15 human formation” as they danced to the One Billion Rising theme song.
The group marks this as their early commemoration of the upcoming International Working Women’s Day (IWWD) on March 8, Sunday.
“For this year’s IWWD, we aim to highlight the urgent demand of teachers, of whom 80% are women, for salary upgrading. We share the call of all working women for decent pay and dignity of work,” said ACT National Chairperson Joselyn Martinez, in a statement Saturday.
ACT said that the teaching profession remains to be’gravely undervalued by the government, as seen in how it’s among the lowest paid professions in the country. The group added that it is similar to all other jobs that society views as ‘extension of women’s reproductive work,’ thereby only given meager pay.
“But like in the case of domestic work, productive work greatly depends on education. The quality of productive citizens we produce is directly proportional to the quality of education they receive. And in order to improve both, the state shall grant teachers living wages. Upgrade teachers’ salaries now to salary grade 15,” called Martinez.
ACT argued that despite the government’s insistence, raising the salaries of nearly 900,000 public school teachers is not impossible, citing that President Rodrigo Duterte was able to immediately double the pay of military and uniformed personnel and provide yet another round of increase before his term ends as evidenced by a leaked memorandum in January 2020 ordering for such.
“It really is a matter of political will and appreciation of the indispensable contribution of teachers and of education to the nation’s progress. Unfortunate though that the Duterte government would rather spend people’s money on wars against the people and on a failing ‘Build, Build, Build’ project,” said Martinez.
The group however cited that not all hope is lost as public sector nurses were able to win over their fight for decent pay. Starting 2020, entry-level pay of nurses will be at P32,053 after the Supreme Court ruled that their salary should be at salary grade 15.
“The victory of nurses strengthens the justness and urgency of our fight, especially as nurses and teachers share similar qualifications and provide equally important services. There’s no reason for teachers to remain at salary grade 11 which will only come to P27,000 after four years, by the end of Duterte’s stingy SSL 5. Moreso when nurses as well as police and soldiers receive around P30,000 a month,” said Martinez.
The group pledged to intensify their fight for salary upgrading this year as Duterte failed to deliver what he promised teachers.
More actions are expected in the coming months as teachers hold Duterte accountable and demand what is due them—a decent pay commensurate to the significant work that they do for the youth and for the nation./Stacy Ang