Teachers group slams mandatory work without pay

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LAS PIÑAS, NCR, PHILIPPINES - 2020/10/05: Group of Teachers prepare set of Modules for Oct.15 distribution to the students of Moonwalk Elementary School in Talon 5, Las Pinas City. (Photo by Joel Mataro/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
LAS PIÑAS, NCR, PHILIPPINES - 2020/10/05: Group of Teachers prepare set of Modules for Oct.15 distribution to the students of Moonwalk Elementary School in Talon 5, Las Pinas City. (Photo by Joel Mataro/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Teachers group Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines slams the Department of Education (DepEd) after it received numerous reports from teachers that they are still being mandated to physically report to their respective schools after the school year had ended on June 24, and without service credit being given as compensation.

The DepEd memorandum order 43 issued on May 10 lays down the End-of-School Year (EOSY) rites, and reiterated its policy on academic ease and allowance of suspension of classes and other teaching-related activities after a surge in COVID-19 cases, wherein an adjustment to the school calendar must be made to compensate for the loss of school days.

Calling the memorandum questionable and “a new form of forced labor,” Vladimer Quetua, chairperson of ACT Philippines, said that this disregards the teachers’ well-deserved rest, and that the justification isn’t sufficient to qualify as an “exigency of service.”

“There are also 209 school days this school year. Even if we deduct the 12 maximum days of class cancellation during the health break, there were still 198 class days that teachers think have been sufficient to meet the learning objectives given that they already did the necessary interventions. So as it is there is no need for an extension of school days,” Quetua said.

“[A]ccording to the DepEd calendar, June 24 is the last class day. So beyond this, teachers are supposed to be enjoying their teacher’s leave (the only leave benefits of teacher), which is paid through the proportional vacation pay,” Quetua further pointed out. “Teachers should already be having their school break, as their proportional vacation pay has always been computed based on the DepEd’s official school calendar.”

Quetua also said that if the need for an exigency of service arises that teachers need to officially report for work, there must be an appropriate compensation given to them.

“If the DepEd is to insist that there is exigency of service, there should be an order approved by the division that teachers are required to report and there should be additional compensation or service credit for them,” Quetua said.

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments in politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. The views expressed are his own.

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