Teachers to Briones: Salary hike not about money but our dignity

MANILA, Philippines – A teachers' group on Thursday, June 6, called out Education Secretary Leonor Briones for implying that the public school teachers' demand for higher pay was just a money issue.

The Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) said in a statement on Thursday that in seeking a higher salary,  public school teachers were only after a "dignified" salary. (READ: Classroom shortages greet teachers, students in opening of classes)

"This is about a decent salary that we so deserve as employees, public servants and most especially as teachers," said TDC national chairperson Benjo Basas.

TDC made the statement after Briones told teachers in school visits on the first day of school that the teaching profession was "not all about money." She said this in the context of the call for higher salaries for teachers.

Basas said teachers were hurt by Briones' statement, “as if we only want more money in our pockets."

"Let me reiterate that our demand for salary increase is based not only on economics. Salaries manifest the value of a given profession and their role in society," he said.

"Thus, if the teachers would only receive P20,754 then that is their value, their price. I bet even the Secretary would agree that this is not commensurate to our roles and expected output to our profession. This is not about money indeed, this is about our dignity," Basas added.

Entry-level public school teachers have Salary Grade 11, pegged at P20,754, under the 4th tranche of the Salary Standardization Law.

Basas urged the education chief to nurture teachers instead of insulting them.

“We ask her to refrain from making statements that in one way or another would insult and hurt our teachers. As her subordinates, we expect motherly compassion,” he said.

Briones had said in a radio interview that the government would have to shell out around P150 billion to fund a P10,000-salary increase for public school teachers. She also said then that teachers are not the most marginalized among government workers in terms of pay.

Basas also criticized how Briones handled the issue involving teachers who had turned a toilet into a faculty room in a Bacoor City high school. The education secretary came under fire for saying that the teachers used the old toilets because doing so was more “dramatic” and “touching.”

To this, Basas said, “It’s no drama, as it is never an isolated case and often, the teachers have no other choice and [are] forced to use old comfort rooms or part of [the] school lobby as their faculty room.”  

Basas said that they were open to a dialogue with the secretary to discuss the salary hike issue among other matters hounding the education sector. – Rappler.com