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Excluding NFA employees from pay adjustments unfair

12:01 AM January 31, 2017

We refer to President Duterte’s commitment to provide decent wages to workers in government by ensuring the proper implementation of the salary standardization directives of the executive department.

In a rather disparate tone, however, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia proposes a cut on the pay and bonuses not only of GOCC (government-owned and -controlled corporations) executives but also of its regular employees.

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Our concern is about the increase in our measly pay more than about bonuses. Rank and file employees of the National Food Authority (NFA) and most of the GOCCs are already suffering from the intended backlash of Pernia’s proposal.

We recall that by virtue of Executive Orders No. 201 and No. 203 issued in 2016 by then President Benigno Aquino III, the salaries of about a million state workers in the national agencies, state colleges and universities, along with other GOCCs, were increased.

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However, the Governance Commission for GOCCs (GCG) ruled that employees of losing GOCCs under its jurisdiction may not qualify for the salary increases mandated by EO 203 and it categorized the NFA as a financially nonviable government corporation.

Our cruel misfortune is that the NFA has a distinctive mandate to effectively stabilize the price and supply of rice even during calamities. Thus, it is inevitable that its operation would result in concomitant losses—a necessary social cost. In other words, the NFA is unlike other government corporations whose operations are profit-driven. But, to be clear, the NFA is also a GOCC and thus its employees deserve to benefit from EO 201 which mandates salary increase for GOCC employees.

The GCG must understand the need to pay a steep price for the NFA’s effective stabilization functions; in return, this assures ordinary Filipino consumers of accessibility to affordable rice. The ordinary workers of the NFA also toil in fields and offices, in the markets and warehouses, to ensure that there is enough rice supply in the market and to rice prices.

For the NFA employees, to be excluded from salary increases mandated by law is demoralizing, to say the least. We are at a loss why deserving NFA employees are not made to benefit from just salary adjustments that are meant to promote “equal pay for equal work.”

Looking up to President Duterte as our inspirational leader, we appeal to his sense of compassion for ordinary workers like us—low-salaried laborers, clerks, drivers and aides with plantilla positions—to include employees of the NFA and all government agencies for standardized pay so we can enjoy the benefits of a well-deserved salary increase.

MAXIMO M. TORDA, secretary general, National Food Authority Employees Association (NFA-EA) Courage, [email protected]

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TAGS: letter, Letter to the Editor, National Food Authority, NFA, opinion, pay, salary, wage, wages
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