In time for Halloween, a group of education workers staged a protest at the Department of Education (DepEd) main office in Pasig City to once again press the agency for overtime compensation and other economic benefits.
Dressed in Halloween costumes, members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) – National Capital Region (NCR) Union held the protest action to criticize the agency for its “trick or threat” handling of teachers’ just demand for overtime pay and other benefits.
ACT NCR Union President Vladimer Quetua lamented that while teachers work like “zombies” just to fulfill the requirements of DepEd, the agency continues to “neglect” its duty to provide proper compensation, protection, and care for teaching and non-teaching staff.
The protest action featured “zombie” teachers who represent those who are overworked and DepEd as the “grim reaper” who “buries into oblivion” the fair compensation of education workers.
In particular, ACT-NCR hit DepEd for “reneging on its commitment” during a dialogue in June that teachers will be compensated for “no less than 87 days” of overtime in the last school year.
ACT has since assailed DepEd’s “lack of follow through” with the said agreement and announced Oct. 5 — during the World Teachers’ Day (WTD) — as the agency’s deadline or they will claim their earned overtime via a mass leave.
However, ACT said that DepEd publicly stated their new stance that the demand has “no legal basis” and issued a “thinly veiled threat” against teachers who will participate in the mass leave.
“In yet another dialogue held yesterday between ACT, ACT Teachers Partylist, CSC, DBM, and DepEd, our mother agency maintained their absurd position of outrightly denying excess work days in the last school year,” Quetua said.
“They, however, remained unable to present their legal bases for claiming that services rendered by teachers beyond the 220 maximum allowable class days by law are considered ‘regular work days.’ It almost sounded like a ‘because we said so’-power trip,” he added.
Mass leave to push through
As such, ACT said it stands by its promise of staging a mass leave soon.
The group furthered that their fight continues for overtime compensation, which by their computations, amount to 77 days of service credits and an overtime pay of 25 percent premium for 77 days.
The budget for the latter, coming to at least P19.6-billion, has been included in the proposed amendments of the ACT Teachers Partylist to the 2022 budget proposal.
“We call on relevant government agencies and bodies to act on the side of your education frontliners,” Quetua said.
“Teachers have been undervalued and neglected for far too long [and] we have responded diligently to the needs of our nation, it’s time you respond to ours,” he added.