Their stories, saddening.

That’s an understatement though as many of the employees of Clark Development Corporation (CDC) are either feeling depressed or demoralized. Especially those from rank and file level.

This January, majority of them have started to have lesser take home pays. No thanks to the unjust CPCS that is now being implemented. This is a new compensation scheme by the Governance Commission for GOCCs (GCG). This pay scale was right on track at first as it tried to correct exorbitant bonuses, salaries, allowances and other benefits being granted to GOCCs.

In CDC, it got derailed and is leading to a wreck. The salary adjustments, well and good. But that is just half the story. The CPCS, while granting salary adjustments to GOCCs like CDC after 12 freaking years, removed on the other hand, the so-called ABIs (allowances, benefits, incentives). And this is where lies the huge problem and cause of sleepless nights for those affected in CDC.

The CPCS in CDC is like a one step forward but a three backwards (yes, three not just two). It is also like giving a dessert, yet removing a full meal for an already starved fellow.

In the words of a fellow media man: “sinibasib ng kaliwang kamay ang binigay ng kanan”

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In CDC, the workers’ ABIs have been mandated through Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA) which have been renewed and signed by the Management and the Association of Concerned CDC Employees (ACCES) for four times since 1997. Workers’ rights, as enshrined in the Philippine Constitution, are also protected by the Labor Law. But the ABIs are now being set aside. The ABIs include hazard pay, allowances, (housing, utilities, transportation, COLA). They total to about P5,000.

Also removed under the CPCS is the Meritorious Service Pay (MSP) which is also covered by the CBA. This is an increase, depending on how many years one employee had been working in CDC. It is incremental every five years where the cumulative peak is now 9,000 for employees who have spent 25 years working in CDC (the Clark body has yet to turn 30 years in existence in April this year).

As an example, an ABI of P5,000 plus an MSP of say another P5,000 (for someone who has stayed there for 15 years which may be the average now), that brings the total to P10,000 that are no longer in their monthly paychecks.

For one who has remained loyal and decided to stay for the past 25 years as he/she pinned hopes to a beneficial CPCS, it is even worse at P14,000 ABI and MSP taken away.

Does the salary increase in CPCS cover what was taken away from the lowly workers? Naahh. Far from it. The increases are a pittance for rank and file employees.

With the Authority to Implement dated June 2022 and thus enforced starting January 2023 after the cancellation of the status quo, about 551 workers or 87 percent of all CDC employees now receive lesser take home pays.

Who would not be depressed or demoralized, when, after waiting for 12 loooooooong years that is what they are now getting?

We are not even talking of other benefits that were taken away here (retirement, hospitalization, medical check ups, etc).

There are even fears that they have to refund what they consumed on medical benefits from June to December of 2022.

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What happened?

We are not even talking about inflation and purchasing power between 2010 and 2022. The incessant fuel price increases, notwithstanding. Never mind the price of sibuyas.

I was told that the average losses (or minuses from their take home pays) for affected workers is anywhere from P3,000 to 6,000 per month on the average. My God, that amount means less food on the table, less groceries, less payment for power, water and other utilities, less clothes, less school supplies.

If one worker and family rent a house for 10,000 a month, now they must move to somewhere that is priced less. If one worker brings his family to the mall for once a month for enjoyment, that could be less frequent now. If one worker and his family gets to eat in a restaurant, that could be now the less fun kitchen table.

Less, lesser. This is what CPCS has made of rank and file employees of CDC.

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In fairness, the CDC has joined the ACCES in appealing for the restoration of ABIs. Like the workers’ union, it has written to Malacanang. It is not within the mandate of GCG to grant such.

CDC President Agnes Devanadera, a staunch ally of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who was appointed to head the agency in September last year, found herself embroiled in this problem.

As a lawyer herself and appointed many times to head a government agency, she knows the Labor Code by heart. She knows too PD 1597 which empowers the Office of the President to grant ABIs. I believe she and the CDC Board chaired by another lawyer, former Edgardo Pamintuan, are bent on pushing for that. These are people who can make use of their influence on behalf of the lowly workers.

And that is the best and likable thing to do!