Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas has assumed jurisdiction over the brewing labor dispute in the University, averting in the meantime a strike by non-academic employees of a deadlock in collective bargaining.

In an order dated Jan. 22, Sto. Tomas ordered the two sides to cease and desist from “actions that would exacerbate” the dispute. She ordered the two sides to submit their position papers within 10 days.

The Samahang Mang-gagawa ng UST (SM-UST) expressed dismay at the order, but said it would abide by it.

A mandatory strike vote last Jan. 18 at the Medicine Auditorium voted over-whelmingly for the strike. The union has some 500 members.

After the order was issued, flyers purportedly from Anakbayan, a nondescript group, were posted around campus calling the order “pro-capitalist” and “pro-UST.”

But in her order, Sto. Tomas said she was assuming jurisdiction of the dispute because a strike would disrupt operations of the University which “plays a critical role in implementing the Srare’s role in nation-building and the policy of providing quality education.” She added, a strike would disrupt the operations of the UST Hospital.

The collective bargaining agreement (CBA) deadlocked last December over salary increases.

The union has demanded a hefty 13,500 increase over three years – P5,500 on the first year, P4,000 on the second, and P4,000 on the third. The management has offered a P4,700 increase – P1,000 on the first year, P1,700 on the second, and P2,000 on the third.

The two sides are also deadlocked over the amount of the signing bonus (the union wants P35,000 while the Management offers P10,000) and the Christmas bonus.

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A UST janitor receives at least P12,904.62 a month, an office clerk P18,303.94, and a librarian P20,950.

According to Faculty of Arts and Letters Dean Armando de Jesus, a member and the spokesman of the management panel, the management is willing to take a second look at the figures, like the computation of the income derived from the tuition increase, to make adjustments in their offer, if needed.

SM-UST has come up with its own computation of the income generated from the tuition increase, which doesn’t match the University’s calculation.

“If the computation of the union is correct then there must be some adjustment. (However), the management will (only) give what is due to the union in terms of the 70 percent,” de Jesus said.

So far, however, the Union has refused to show its computation. It has asked the management to tap other sources of income to meet its demands.

But, de Jesus said the University will not use its other sources of income to satisfy the union’s demand.

Despite the deadlock, both sides expressed hope of carving out a deal soon. Teodoro Lorenzo A. Fernandez

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