06 February 2014, 10:44 p.m. – THERE’S no deal yet on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), with the University administration and the UST Faculty Union (USTFU) entering a five-day “cooling-off period” after negotiations earlier today.

“Following the ground rules set by both [panels], there will be a five-day cooling off period before a deadlock can be declared. Please continue praying for a successful CBA,” said USTFU President George Lim in a text message to faculty members.

USTFU Internal Vice President Rene Luis Tadle said details of negotiations for a new five-year CBA–a contract that lays down wages, wage hikes, working hours and other terms and conditions of employment–could not be disclosed under the ground rules.

On Wednesday, faculty members wore yellow in support of the USTFU panel. The new CBA has been delayed for nearly three years. The previous five-year CBA expired in 2011, and talks were delayed over changes in the UST administration.

Negotiations hit a snag late last year after USTFU was rocked by a dispute over the administration’s proposal to transfer CBA provisions on faculty promotions and reclassification to a separate faculty manual. A member of the USTFU panel from the Faculty of Arts and Letters was removed by union officials and talks resumed last November.

The cooling-off period will last for five days, excluding non-working days. The status of the negotiations for the 2011-2016 CBA will be known next Thursday, Feb. 13.

Under the Labor Code, a collective bargaining deadlock is a ground for the union to exercise the right to strike, and for management to declare a lockout. Both parties can still go through conciliation and mediation after the filing of a notice of strike by the union with the National Conciliation and Mediation Board or a notice of lockout by management with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Faculty union files strike notice

The union can go on strike if the deadlock remains unresolved after another 30-day cooling off period. A strike must be approved by a majority vote of union members, after which which a seven-day strike ban or waiting period must be observed. But the DOLE secretary can step in and cite national interest, forcing both sides to go through compulsory arbitration.

USTFU had successfully negotiated three five-year CBAs with the Dominican-run University since 1996. The last time faculty members went on strike was in 1989. Gena Myrtle P. Terre


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