THE COURT of Appeals has affirmed with modification the decision of Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas to take over the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) dispute between the UST Administration and the Samahang Manggagawa ng UST (SM-UST).

The Court’s 13th division, through Associate Justice Regalado Maambong, ruled that Sto. Tomas did not err in the award for the salaries increment and benefits. Associate Justice Martin S. Villarama, Jr. and Lucenito Tagle, the other members of the division, concurred.

“As it appears to us, Secretary Sto. Tomas’ order issued in the instant dispute is clearly intended to stabilize the labor management relations and to achieve a climate of sound and stable industrial peace, “Maambong wrote in the decision promulgated last Jan. 31. “It provides a practical and realistic approach to the problem.”

The decision affirmed the award of salary increases in the amount of P1,000 monthly for the first year, P2,000 monthly for the second year, and P2,200 monthly for the third year. The decision, however, increased the signing bonus from P10,000 per employee to P18,000.

“To balance (the) concern of the University with the need of its non-academic employees, the additional award, which We (CA) deem responsible and to be funded from the University’s accumulated income, is thus limited to the increase in signing bonus,” CA said in explaining the increase of the signing bonus.

The decision added that the CA’s findings support SM-UST’s contention that the UST has substantial accumulated income and therefore it is proper to award an increase, which will be taken from UST’s “other incomes.”

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The Christmas bonus of P2,000 and the mid-year bonus of P3,000 award were also sustained.

In December 2001, SM-UST declared a deadlock after the UST management and the Union’s failed to agree on the economic issues. The Union had wanted an aggregate P7,500-monthly increase and a signing bonus of P60,000. The University, on the other hand, offered a total monthly increase of P4,700 and a signing bonus of P10,000.

Subsequently, SM-UST filed a notice of strike with the DOLE. A conciliation meeting in January 2002 between UST and the Union was unsuccessful, prompting SM-UST to vote in favor of a strike.

On January 22, 2002, Sto. Tomas assumed jurisdiction of the dispute.

On May 31, 2002, Sto. Tomas ruled on the package.

Vice-Rector Fr. Juan Ponce, O.P. criticized the CA decision. He explained there are no existing revenues from other sources since the University’s income from the carpark and canteens is also used for their maintenance.

“Ang mali sa desisyon ng CA, tiningnan nila lahat ng benepisyo na binibigay sa mga empleyado na umabot sa P68 million,” Fr. Ponce said. “In-assume nila na ‘yung benefits ay galing sa other income kasi todong nabigay yung (some) P68 million.”

He added the increase should only be taken from the incremental tuition increase as provided by Republic Act 6728 or the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education Act. John Rheeno T. Cabangcalan and M.E.V. Gonda

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