DA Employees Reject Privatization, Rationalization of Gov’t Agencies
Government employees under the National Federation of Employees’ Associations of the Department of Agriculture joined calls against the privatization policy of the Arroyo administration. It vowed to fight against the rationalization of government agencies and to push for a P3,000 ($56.65) across-the-board monthly salary increase.
BY FLORENCE BATAWANG AND KATHERINE DEL ROSARIO
Posted by Bulatlat
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — Members of the National Federation of Employees’ Association of the Department of Agriculture (Nafeda) expressed strong opposition to the plan of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration to privatize and rationalize government agencies.
They also reiterated their demand for a P3,000 ($56.65, based on an exchange rate of P52.96 per US dollar) across-the-board monthly salary increase during Nafeda’s 3rd Congress held at the National Irrigation Authority Training Center in Wangal, La Trinidad, Benguet, 246 kms north of Manila.
One hundred eight delegates from 21 unions and associations nationwide attended Nafeda’a three-day congress with the theme “Sahod. Trabaho, at Karapatan Ipaglaban! Isulong tunay na patakarang agrikultura at pangisdaan para sa mamamayan at bayan!” (Fight for Just Wages, Jobs, and Rights! Develop an agricultural and fisheries policy beneficial to the people and the country!)
The congress discussed the imminent privatization of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI). The association explained that both serve as the core general service provider of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to its stakeholders. Both bureaus also perform vital services needed for the general development of DA’s functions and services.
According to Nafeda’s statement, the privatization policy as a whole will give the private sector the power to operate and maintain the said agencies for profit. “The state will abandon its basic responsibility of giving services to the farmers sector in particular and the people in general,” the statement read.
In addition, the statement also mentioned that the shift in policy direction from public service to privatization would lead to the retrenchment of thousands of DA employees nationwide, and a cut back in services, functions and assets of the two bureaus. “Through this system, the state hopes to pour cold water to the brewing protests of state workers and the people,” Nafeda said.
Roman Sanchez, executive vice president of Nafeda said that their federation, together with the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (Courage), and other independent unions have been fighting for a P3,000 ($56.65) wage increase for government employees for four years now. But instead of heeding the call, the Arroyo administration is pushing for Executive Order (EO) No. 366, which provides for the rationalization of government agencies.
The EO 366 is the administration’s plan to streamline the bureaucracy as part of its privatization policy. The program includes a massive layoff of government employees, abolition of the so-called “redundant” agencies (or those whose functions are similar to the major agencies), and privatization of food, electric, and water services.
Antonio Reyes, newly-elected president of Nafeda, said that the administration is firm on pursuing the implementation of EO 366 in the first half of 2006.
Sanchez said that Nafeda is also participating in the struggle against the policies of the World Trade Organization (WTO), particularly the Agreement on Agriculture. He said that WTO would destroy the livelihood of Filipino farmers and make the country dependent on imports.” This will kill local agricultural production and millions will lose their jobs,” he added.
Meanwhile, Sanchez said that Nafeda is critical of the retirement incentives offered by EO 366, which will only benefit government employees with 31 years of service.
“Only 20% of the overall number of government employees will be covered by the retirement incentives, so majority who will lose their jobs because of the rationalization program will not benefit from it. We will not allow this to happen,” Sanchez expressed.
He also said that the government should heed the people’s demand for wage increases. Nafeda criticized the 2006 budget, almost 80% of which is allotted to servicing the country’s foreign debts. It said that an increase in the salaries of government employees can be given if the budget will be properly allocated.
The federation also joins the call for President Arroyo to step down.
“Instead of retrenching government employees, it should be Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who should be terminated for she does not represent the best interests of government employees and the people in general,” Sanchez further expressed.
The government employees will conduct a nationwide rally on February 14 to demand for the junking of EO 366 and to push for a P3,000 ($56.65) across-the-board monthly salary increase. Nordis/Posted by Bulatlat