COURT WORKERS IN BACOLOD BEGIN WEEK-LONG MASS LEAVE

BACOLOD CITY, NOVEMBER 4, 2003  (STAR) By Antonieta Lopez — Hundreds of court employees in Negros Occidental began a week-long mass leave yesterday to press their demand for Congress to grant them salary increases.

The mass leave has resulted in court hearings being rescheduled for next week.

The Coalition of Trial Court Employees of Negros Occidental, whose members marked the start of their mass leave with a rally in front of the Hall of Justice building here, spearheaded the protest action.

The coalition’s members approved a resolution requesting Rep. Jose Carlos Lacson (Third district, Negros Occidental) to introduce a bill to grant salary increases to clerks of court and rank-and-file personnel of the judiciary.

Jose Paulo Arriola, spokesman for the Association of Clerks of Court, said the congressmen, instead of wasting time trying to impeach Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr., should instead examine the disparity they created with the passage of the Judiciary Compensation Act (Republic Act 9227).

The law granted judges special monthly allowances equivalent to 100 percent of their basic salaries in four tranches, but clerks of court and rank-and-file workers were not mentioned.

Arriola said RA 9227 is a class legislation discriminating against rank-and-file personnel.

Ferdinand Gaite, president of the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (Courage), earlier said court employees all over the country receive far lower salaries and fewer benefits compared to justices and judges, who were earlier granted a 100 percent increase in allowances after going on mass leave.

The lowest ranking court employee receives only P5,800 every month and the Arroyo administration has not granted any increase in their wages, he said.

A regional trial court judge receives a salary of about P25,333 a month, while a metropolitan trial court judge is paid a monthly salary of P24,350, according to earlier reports.

Gaite added that the court employees are not asking for fixed increases and they will appreciate any amount the government will grant them.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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