Tuesday, September 16, 2008

UP Faculty, Workers Protest Wage Hike Delay

MANILA, Philippines – Around 200 faculty members and nonacademic workers of the University of the Philippines (UP) Monday marched to its main campus in Diliman, Quezon City, Monday to protest the two-month delay in the release of their 10-percent salary increase.

Bearing placards containing their demands, members of the All UP Workers Alliance held a program at the lobby of the Quezon Hall shortly before the scheduled meeting of senior university officials around 3 p.m.

The protesters assailed the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for its alleged arbitrariness in holding funds for the increase.

Dr. Judy Taguiwalo, national vice president for faculty of the All UP Academic Employees Union, said they could not understand why DBM Secretary Rolando Andaya has yet to act on several requests made regarding the wage increase.

Citing an executive order issued by President Macapagal-Arroyo on May 1, Taguiwalo argued that all government workers, including UP personnel, should have received the increase effective July 1. “We see no logical reason why the DBM should keep what is rightfully due us,” Taguiwalo told the Inquirer.

“It’s been two months now since they delayed our salary hike. With the worsening inflation rate, the 10 percent additional salary could hardly help us keep up with the rising costs of goods and services,” she added.

UP President Emerlinda Roman earlier told Taguiwalo’s group in a letter that the DBM declined to approve the budget for the wage hike because UP was no longer included in the government Salary Standardization Law when the university’s new charter was signed last April.

Roman briefly spoke Monday with the protesters on her way to the meeting of the UP President’s Advisory Council.

She said she was optimistic that the DBM would soon approve the funds after the agency asked for documents and the draft of an agreement between the university and DBM.

Roman said she found it strange that while the national government regarded UP as the top university in the country, “our employees have the lowest salary among government workers. I think that’s inconsistent.”

“I assure you that we’re doing what is needed to give you the best of both worlds,” she told the protesters, apparently referring to their efforts to get the nod of the DBM while studying ways to improve other benefits for UP personnel.

Taguiwalo, however, said they were not contented with Roman’s speech.

She then challenged the UP executive to join them in a prayer rally to press Andaya to hasten the release of the funds.

“President Roman told the union that all we can do now is pray. If she’s really with us, then she should lead us in a prayer rally in front of the DBM office,” Taguiwalo said.

By Marlon Ramos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:29:00 09/15/2008

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