Do Public School Teachers have the Right to Strike?
The constitutional right of the people to form associations embraces both public and private sectors, pursuant to Article XIII, section 3 of the 1987 Constitution. However, the right to strike is not extended to government employees under the Civil Service Law (PD No. 807). Also, Republic Act 875 allows workers, including those from the government-owned and controlled-corporations to organize but they are prohibited from striking. The Civil Service Commission explains that by reason of the nature of the public employer and the peculiar character of the public service, the right to strike given to unions in private industry does not apply to public employee and civil service employees.
Joining the mass action or peaceful assemblies during school hours amount to a strike in every sense of the term, constituting concerted and unauthorized stoppage of, or absence from work which teachers have sworn duty to perform. While it is true that teachers are allowed to seek redress against injustice to the administration, they shall however, avoid jeopardizing the interest and welfare of the learners whose right to learn must be respected (The Code of Ethics for Professional Teachers Art. VI sec. 4). Participation in organization activities are allowed outside school hours or with consent from the school authorities if within school hours (RA 4670 Magna Carta for Public School Teachers sec. 28b).
If the participation is done during school hours, a return to work order or memorandum may be issued by our school head to remind us of the possible consequence of joining the mass action. This directive must not in any way be disregarded. Public School teachers who go on strike may be charged with refusal to perform official duty, gross insubordination, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and absence without leave with corresponding penalty of six months and 1 day to one year suspension for the 1st offense or dismissal for the 2nd offense.
Joining any organization is our right. But let us also keep in mind that any grievance or administrative complaint shall be conducted within acceptable democratic process. Let’s think twice before we involve ourselves in any mass actions or strikes.