[This report was emailed to The Times by the central HQ of ACT, th Alliance of Concerned Teachers.]
Teachers united in calls for P25,000 salary upgrade, union registration and accreditation–coming from across the Eastern Visayan region—gave the administration of President Noynoy Aquino a ‘fail’ report card grade for its very poor response to the effects of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), particular on the education sector, and for its unsatisfactory rehabilitation efforts.
“Public school teachers in the Eastern Visayas region are among the most underpaid and overworked in the Philippines and suffered even more when Super Typhoon Yolanda washed out our homes. A year after, we have yet to recover with no help—just mounting debts from GSIS and Pag-Ibig—from the national government and are faced with the prospect of losing at least P7,000 in benefits with little or no chance of the long sought-after P25,000 salary upgrade,” said Gaspar Echivarre, president of the ACT Teachers’ Union—Region VIII.
This was the overall sentiment of participants representing all divisions in the region during the First Teachers’ Leadership Training and Seminar on Public Sector Unionism in Region VIII, held at the Cawacsi Retreat House in Tacloban City. The seminar was sponsored by the Alliance of Concerned Teachers, Swedish teachers’ union Laraforbundet, Education International, and the Department of Education.
“We gave the Aquino administration a ‘Fail’ mark in the emergency response aspect of Typhoon Yolanda—imagine distributing make-up kits to schools, and only through a lottery to administrators, and receiving little or no relief, or only from international NGOs. We also gave Aquino a ‘Fail’ mark in the rehabilitation phase, and the fact that only 1.08 percent of the damaged classrooms have been repaired speaks for itself.
“Lastly, we gave Aquino a ‘Fail’ mark on the recovery aspect, as basic but desperately needed benefits such as salary and allowance upgrading, fiscal and non-fiscal benefits, and the protection of our rights continue to be ignored,” explained Echivarre.
The seminar participants called on their fellow teachers in the Eastern Visayas region to step up efforts to register and accredit the ACT Teachers’ Union – Region VIII as the sole and exclusive bargaining unit of public school teachers for their rights and welfare as a concrete step towards defending and achieving basic needs and demands. Registration requires signatures from the 10 percent of the region’s total teacher population, and accreditation requires 50%+1 of the population.
“Like the rest of the people of Eastern Visayas who have relied on bayanihan (mutual aid) among their communities, we teachers can rely on no one else but our fellow teachers through unionism. We call on our fellow teachers to speed up efforts to register and accredit our regional teachers’ union—the sooner we establish our teachers’ union, the sooner can we win our fights for better salaries and benefits,” Echivarre said in conclusion.
President, ACT Teachers Union – Region VIII – 0916 419 5399
ALLIANCE OF CONCERNED TEACHERS – PHILIPPINES