Salary Standardization Law III: Third Time’s the CharmJanuary 31, 2010
by Nicole Sun, with Marben Cruz
Time and time again we’ve heard about the countless protests revolving around wages never being enough for the average government worker. With the booming prices of goods today, who can blame them? Thank God the RP’s government knows this is a serious matter to be addressed. Enter President GMA to approve the newly improved Salary Standardization Law III (SSL) last June 17, 2009. We applaud authors Senator Richard Gordon and Senator Edgar Angara for pushing through and co-authoring this amendment of Republic Act No. 6758 passed on 1989 (last edited on 1994). We all know government workers are sadly underpaid and overworked. The usual pay hardly keeps up with the daily expenses, so an updated version to work out the kinks is just what we need! What perfect timing since we’re still recuperating from the after-effects of the recent global economic recession.
Around 1.145-million government employees are targeted to benefit from this law. It aims to increase their salaries and benefits by a whopping total of P125.6 billion over the next four years. Plus incentives, would you believe! Joint Resolution No. 26 wants the government blue collar guys to be able to keep up with the private sector workers. Also called the Total Compensation Framework (TCF), it aims to standardize the basic salaries, allowances, benefits and incentives for government officials and employees.
These allowances will be staggered into four equal yearly parts, which started last July 1, 2009 up until 2013. But full implementation may take less than four years because of a provision that for every P50 billion increases in the government budget, five percent shall go to government salary increases. Why four years? It is necessary for revenues to match up with the costs, or for tax collections to pay for the salary increases of these workers so there are sure funds to be allocated.
The basic salary, including step increases where an employee may progress from step 1 up to step 8 of the salary grade allocation, will be the primary part of the compensation. And who get to benefit from this? They are the teachers and nurses who apparently make up almost half of the government workforce. They basically want the concept of “equal pay for work of equal value.” And that sounds quite fair to us. Call it a much deserved incentive for wanting to serve the public.
Then there is the University of the Philippines (UP). Being Iskolar ng Bayan, each student’s education is bound to be of great caliber, having professors supposedly getting high pay that they deserve for producing waves of promising students to serve the country through their respective fields. Interestingly, the new UP Charter signed last 2008 exempted the national University from the Salary Standardization Law.
Exemption from the SSL simply means that UP faculty members cannot avail for themselves the 10 percent salary increase intended for government employees. Statistics show that for UP to increase the salaries of its employees, the government needs to raise at least P3.6 billion. Professor Maria Concepcion Alfiler, the Vice President for Finance and Development of UP, said that the university does not have the enough resources for such increase. According to Section 24 Grant of Special Allowances in the UP Charter, “In order to continue to attract and maintain competent and excellent teaching personnel, all faculty members of the University may be granted special allowances upon approval of the Board of Regents up to a maximum amount equivalent to one hundred percent (100%) of the basic monthly salary specified for their respective salary grades under Republic Act No. 6758, as amended, otherwise known as the Salary Standardization Law.” Such provision can be seen as an attempt to compensate for the exclusion of the university from the SSL.
At the end of the day, we have to remember that it is almost always beyond the control of the government when price levels rise unexpectedly or unabatedly because the Philippines is an economy that has a market on its own, which determines the more or less stable levels that would work for the entire country. While all the economic misfortunes barely do any good to the average Filipino worker, the government is always trying to devise ways of mitigating the burden passed on the already trembling shoulders of hardworking citizens. More importantly, after hearing good news from the government, people themselves should not forget that it is also their responsibility to really make sure that the government delivers the good stuff to them. Recognizing the duty that each citizen has is the way to go in making the Philippines a better country to live in.