By TYRONE A. VELEZ
DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Mary Jane Baluyot is one of the thousands of teachers hired by the city’s local school board on contractual basis to fill up the shortage of teachers in public schools.
As a contractual, she receives a salary nearly half of the minimum pay of regular teachers hired by the Department of Education.
Baluyot longs to be hired as a regular worker to enjoy benefits and rights. Last Friday, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers Davao Region said such demands are within reach with their accreditation as a union to negotiate for such demands.
In a press conference Friday, ACT Davao President Elenito Escalante announced that they have been accredited as a union through Certificate of Registration (no. 1866) granted by the Civil Service Commission and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)
He said forming unions in public employees is granted by law such as Magna Carta for Public School Teacher (RA 4670) and Guidelines for the Exercise of the Right to Organize Government Employees (EO 180 series of 1987).
Escalante said with this accreditation, ACT Davao Union would be the “sole, exclusive representative of teaching employees (in Davao region) to negotiate and undertake activities for the furtherance of the interest of its members.”
The teachers’ population in Davao region from all four provinces reaches up to 25,000.
Escalante said fellow teachers received this news warmly as many have longed for an association to ask for benefits and reforms due them as mandated by the law. With unionism, he said, there is now a legally mandated body to represent their demands to the Department of Education.
But he said their next step now is to educate fellow teachers on the process of membership which entails reaching teachers from very far towns in Davao region’s four provinces.
Only teachers and principals are accepted as union members.
For ACT Partylist representative Antonio Tinio, compensation for teachers’ sacrifices are long overdue.
“The teachers are the only government employees who do not get overtime pay,” said Tinio, enforcing the notion of public school teachers as new beasts of burden for being overworked and underpaid.
Tinio said since Davao is the first region in Mindanao to form its union, it should learn from the ACT NCR Union which negotiated for benefits for its 55,000-strong members.
Professor Mae Templa, coordinator of ACT in Mindanao, also said that the granting economic and democratic rights serve to boost morale and dignity of the teachers.
Tinio also said teachers’ salary upgrade will be his main agenda in the budget appropriations sessions in the House of Representatives next week.
He also said ACT and other partylists from the Makabayan bloc in the House will push for the scrapping of Provincial Development Allocation Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel as it deprives the people with much needed social services.
Tinio will also push for the regularization of contractual and volunteer teachers hired by the local school board to fill in the need of 60,000 school teachers targeted by DepEd for this school year.
ACT Davao Union presented their 16-point agenda for the Collective Negotiation Agreement including salary upgrading, higher allowances, rice subsidy and grocery allowance, regularization of contractual and volunteer teachers, additional leave, implementation of six-hour maximum actual teaching hours per day, regulation of class size and teaching load, graduate study leave with pay, transparency in hiring and promotion process, protection against unjust charges, full enjoyment of GSIS benefits, ensuring mechanisms to raise grievances, CNA incentive, representation in policy making bodies and other committees and adequate workplace facilities. (Tyrone A. Velez/ Davao Today)ACT Teachers, Antonio Tinio, Philippine education, unionism, workers