Members of various Philippine trade unions arrives at the Mendiola Peace Arch to call on the government to give attention to the rights of Filipino workers. | JOSHUA MANALO

More than 500 teachers and support personnel from private and public schools staged a protest on Labor Day in Manila to call for salary increases, benefits, humane working conditions, and educational reforms.

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers – Philippines (ACT) led the rally in Mendiola to draw the government’s attention to the plight of teachers nationwide.

Dubbed “Protesta de Mayo,” the rally featured “teacher-queens” are in gowns styled as “Reyna Poorita,” “Reyna Haggarda,” “Reyna Abonada,” “Reyna Walang Pahinga,” “Reyna Pinaasa,” “Reyna Fiona,” Reyna Alay,” and “Reyna Sablay,” representing underpaid, overworked, under-supported, and red-tagged teachers.

Other teacher’s groups staged simultaneous rallies in Baguio, Rizal, Laguna, Iloilo City, Bacolod City, Cebu City, and Davao City.

“Naririto kami dahil itinuro sa amin ng 40 taon na karanasan ng ACT na ang bawat tagumpay sa pagtaas ng sweldo ay ipinaglaban ng mga guro sa kalsada,” said Vladimer Quetua, ACT chairperson, in a statement.

Queta said teachers could no longer endure subhuman working conditions in schools wherein teachers were forced to teach in cramped and hot classrooms, made to take on non-teaching duties, paid salaries below liveable levels, and still obligated to spend on classroom needs.

“We are also geared to push back harder the red-tagging against of our unions and violations against our union rights such as the various delaying tactics of the management on our collective negotiation agreement process, and human rights violations against our leaders and members,” said Quetua.

ACT is calling for the upgrading of teachers’ salaries to Salary Grade 15 for Teacher 1 and Salary Grade 16 for Instructor, increasing the minimum salary in government to P33,000 per month, and supporting the fight of private sector workers for a P750 across-the-board wage hike. Shianna Geraldine Manuel