Thursday, November 11, 2004

Much Ado Over Nothing

Release of Yearend Bonuses No Big Deal, Civil Servants To Continue Our Demand For Salary Hike - COURAGE

Press Release
November 11, 2004
Ferdinand Gaite

They could heave a sigh of relief that their bonus will be released but stressed there’s nothing to celebrate as their salaries remain frozen at starvation levels. This was the reaction of government workers to the announcement that the Department of Budget and management has released P9.3B for their Christmas bonus.

In a statement, the militant COURAGE said Malacanang’s announcement is no big deal to the 1.4 million or more government employees because as far as the economic realities of government employees are concerned, the traditional yearend bonus and cash gift has been long spent even before it is received. The 13th month pay has been collateral for loans. Moreover, Malacanang did just that, ANNOUNCE, because the payment of the yearend bonus is mandated by law, and by practice government offices release said benefits between November 16 and 30.

Ferdinand Gaite, COURAGE National President said the fund release is the least the government could do to prevent itself from further fueling the growing restiveness among the employees. Earlier, Malacanang was said to have been contemplating on delaying or even withholding the state workers’ bonus citing the fiscal crisis.

“It would have made a difference if it is our demand for a salary increase. The yearend bonus would only pass our hands and in some cases from the payroll straight to the money lenders and loan sharks. In fact, what we will receive is the payment of the remaining 50% of our yearend bonus and the Php2,500 cash gift. We have already received half of it in May and was used to finance our children’s tuition fees. So what would be left to us is still mounting unpaid loans. It is the reason why we insists on a long overdue salary adjustment”.

Government workers are demanding a P3,000 across the board salary increase for all government employees nationwide citing the increasing cost of living. The last time they got a raise was way back in 2000, a measly 5% of their basic pay which then stood at P4, 800. The increase was equivalent to P240.

“With a monthly salary of P5,082 and the price of a Liquefied Petroleum Gas increasing from P300 in 2000 to P460 this month, how does the government expects us employees to survive? Just about everything has gone up, fuel, electricity, transportation, water and even the prices of basic goods and services but not our salaries!”

Gaite announced that government employees are set to hold their biggest rally this coming November 24 in Mendiola. “We will bring to Malacanang’s attention all our issues – pay hike demand, ouster of GSIS PGM Garcia, opposition to rationalization plan, transfer of offices, reorganization, privatization and other forms of lay-off. As the sole employer of the biggest workforce, this government has become bereft of any moral authority given the way it treated its workers”. #

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