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SSL4 deceptive and divisive

/ 12:14 AM February 23, 2016

AGHAM—Advocates of Science and Technology for the People—unites with all government workers in calling for livable and just wages, and genuine support for S&T workers; and in rejecting the Salary Standardization Law 4 or SSL4. The promise of higher wages under SSL4 is a deceptive and divisive scheme that pays lip service to the long-sought-after demand of government employees for a salary increase that will adequately support their families’ needs.

The government claims that the wages of the public sector would be 70 percent more of the current salary received by the private sector and that government employees would enjoy a 45-percent increase. What these statements do not say is that private sector wages have long been falling amid the escalating prices of goods and services, and are thus not a reliable benchmark for a just and livable wage. The 45-percent salary increase, on the other hand, is selective and will only be felt by managers, executives and higher public officials with Salary Grades 16 to 33.

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For lower salary grade workers, the salary increase is a measly amount not enough to enable them to adapt to the rising costs of goods and services. For Salary Grade 1 (SG1), for example, the proposed increase would only be from P9,000 to P11,068. On a daily basis, an SG1 government worker will only receive P368.93, far below the daily minimum wage of P444 to P481 set by the labor department for the National Capital Region. It is also way below the required food threshold of P439 based on food requirements established by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute.

With the SSL4 bill currently deadlocked in the bicameral conference committee, the Aquino administration is making papogi by moving to issue an executive order to implement the first tranche of the salary increases under SSL4. If the government truly wants to give employees the wages they deserve, the executive order should mandate a national minimum wage of P16,000.

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The Aquino administration has also sought to pacify government workers enjoying Magna Carta benefits by retracting the repeal clause disallowing all incentives, including those under the Magna Carta. There is no assurance, however, that the government will be true to its word. The executive order can still be used as an instrument to stop granting the Magna Carta benefits and put in place wages that would push government workers to poverty.

We condemn the deceptive and divisive tactics of the Aquino administration with the SSL4. We demand the immediate granting of a national monthly minimum wage of P16,000 that would address social inequities in the bureaucracy.

We also demand the strengthening of the Magna Carta for Scientists and establishing a National Agenda for Science and Technology that would genuinely address the wellbeing and development of our scientists, technologists, engineers and science workers; and harness their potential to provide meaningful contributions to national progress and development.

—FENY COSICO, secretary general, Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (Agham)

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TAGS: hike, increase, letter, opinion, salary, Salary Increase, Salary Standardization Law, SSL
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