BAGUIO CITY (Jan. 22) — The Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) issued an order Monday assuming jurisdiction for compulsory arbitration over the labor conflict between the University of the Cordilleras’ (UC) employees’ union and the management.
Kapatiran ng mga Empleado ng UC-BCF (Kapatiran), the UC union, branded the move as a suppression of their constitutional rights, including the right to strike. Kapatiran will undergo the compulsory arbitration for the settlement of their issues but the order will not stop them from exercising their other constitutional rights, according to Regi delos Santos, the Kapatiran president.
“We will not stop fighting for our case. We will continue exhausting various ways and means to put into proper perspective the issues we raised,” said delos Santos in a press conference here on Tuesday.
Delos Santos said the union wanted to rise up for the alleged violations of their rights. He added they followed legal processes before collectively deciding for a strike but these efforts were put to waste because of the DoLE order which would make their strike illegal if pushed through.
Nordis learned that with the Assumption of Jurisdiction (AJ) order by DoLE Sec. Arturo Briones, the union’s issues would be submitted for compulsory arbitration. The said order also enjoined the union not to resort to strike, and the management to a lockout. The union received the order Monday.
The union claimed that the issues they are pushing in their Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) could have been discussed by the union and the management had not the latter’s continuous refusal to recognize de los Santos on the bargaining table.
In a Nordis interview last week with UC Pres. Jaime Buzar, he claimed that de los Santos could not represent the union because she is no longer a UC employee. This management treatment, claimed the Kapatiran, led to a stalled bargaining agreement.
Lawyer Milton Balagtey, Kapatiran counsel, justified the presence of de los Santos in the bargaining. “By law, she (de los Santos) is their bargaining agent,” he explained to local media.
Since the union had chosen de los Santos, her presence in any bargaining is non-negotiable added Balagtey. Sonia Masaway, Kapatiran secretary agreed with Balagtey who spoke in press conference.
The management refusal to negotiate with the union had been revolving with de los Santos, union claimed, which is a non-issue.
Dismissed from service
UC management was firm de los Santos is no longer an employee of their institution.
Nordis learned that a case was filed by the UC against de los Santos at the labor arbiter (NLRC) in 2005. The case led to the dismissal of de los Santos which was upheld by the national NLRC and the Court of Appeals but is presently under appeal at the Supreme Court.
While the UC believes that de los Santos is no longer an employee, the union believes that the case is not yet final as it is under appeal at the SC.
“Assuming, but not accepting that she is no longer an employee, we can still have her as a bargaining agent under the law,” another union member points out.
After the issuance of the Briones AJ, there is yet no schedule for the Kapatiran and the UC management arbitration. # Arthur L. Allad-iw for NORDIS