A DISPUTE is brewing at the UST Faculty Union (USTFU), with professors up in arms at the possibility of losing at least P50 million in salary hikes under a plan to charge a three-unit incentive pay to tuition increases.

The head of the Arts and Letters Faculty Association (Alfa), lawyer Danielito Jimenez, is calling on USTFU President George Lim to resign for allegedly agreeing to the deal with the UST administration, without the consent of the 1,500-strong union.

Sought for comment, Lim hit back at Jimenez, saying: “He does not know that I wrote a letter to UST last August challenging the tuition increase figures given to us.”

“We were only given figures and we have not agreed to any of them. Those discussions are better left for the CBA panels to take up in due time,” said Lim.

Against non-diminution of benefits

USTFU secured the three-unit incentive during negotiations for its 2011-2016 collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that lays down salaries and other terms and conditions of work.

As part of measures to adjust to the K to 12 transition, the administration agreed to cut the full-time teaching load of tenured professors to 21 units from 24 units without reducing pay, on a staggered basis up to 2017.

Faculty members led by Alfa President Danielito Jimenez and former USTFU vice president Rene Luis Tadle said it was understood the three-unit incentive pay would be shouldered by the administration.

During the USTFU general assembly last Sept. 30, however, it was revealed that the three-unit incentive pay, initially for professors and associate professors, would instead be drawn from tuition increases in Academic Years 2014-2015 and 2015-2016, 70 percent of which, by law, should go to salaries and other benefits.

Drawing the three-unit incentive from tuition hikes that should automatically go to salary adjustments would run afoul of the principle of “non-diminution of benefits” guaranteed by the Labor Code, Jimenez, a labor lawyer, insisted.

Grievance complaint filed

In a grievance complaint dated Oct. 10, Jimenez hit Lim for refusing to challenge the administration, and pointed out that faculty negotiators did not agree to such an arrangement during the CBA talks in 2014.

Lim’s position “seems inimical to the best interest of the USTFU membership and may even amount to an impeachable offense for betrayal of trust,” Jimenez claimed.

In a letter to Lim last Oct. 4, Tadle urged the USTFU chief to reconsider his stance, warning that the “initial” loss to faculty members could reach P50 million.

Under such a scheme, lower-ranked faculty members will lose out as their share of salary hikes from tuition increases will shrink, Jimenez explained.

Jimenez also pointed out that the scheme would discriminate against non-teaching personnel, who are supposed to share in the tuition hikes as provided by Republic Act 6728 or the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education Act.

Resignation urged

Jimenez urged Lim to resign, claiming the USTFU chief was not truthful to the faculty.

“His first reaction is not to act on it. I think it was only upon the clamor of more and more faculty members that he later on conceded,” Jimenez said in an interview with the Varsitarian.

Last Oct. 17, Jimenez’s complaint against Lim was given due course by lawyer Jose Ngo, Jr., USTFU vice president for grievances and complaints. The complaint was forwarded to Vice Rector for Academic Affairs Clarita Carillo for resolution.

In his 12-page complaint, Jimenez said: “We hope … the USTFU leadership … will find ways to implore UST to rectify this questionable charging against [the tuition increase] independent of the grievance complaint.”

Taken for a ride?

Tadle, lead convenor of the Council of Teachers and Staff of Colleges and Universities of the Philippines, said there seemed to be a “misrepresentation” as faculty members thought the University would finance the cost of the three-unit load reduction to compensate for concessions made by the union to the administration under the 2011-2016 CBA.

In his letter to Lim, Tadle pointed out that the CBA took away “many social and political rights and benefits” earned by the faculty in previous negotiations, such as representation in the Academic Senate and a “more liberal” faculty reclassification and promotion system, “without getting much in return.”

Thus, it appears that faculty members who voted to ratify the CBA were “taken for a ride,” he said.

During the USTFU assembly, member Gemma Agoy from the Institute of Religion admitted that she spearheaded the proposal for the three-unit load reduction without salary cuts in 2014. She said she was surprised to learn that the union membership would end up shouldering the incentive.

Renegotiation sought

The USTFU is set to sit down with the administration to renegotiate the economic provisions of the CBA, Lim bared in the USTFU general assembly last Sept. 30.

Lim said the union would write a letter to the UST administration to begin talks on the faculty pay scheme for AY 2014-2015 and 2015-2016.

The faculty ratified the CBA in 2014 following backdoor talks between Lim and Rector Fr. Herminio Dagohoy that averted a strike.

Lim, a physician, won over Tadle in the heated race for USTFU president last year, with the backing of professors from the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery.

Tadle noted that at this point, USTFU should have begun talks for the next CBA, yet it has not even begun renegotiations for the existing agreement.

Lim, for his part, told the Varsitarian: “Stand by for the CBA negotiations and we will see how this all ends.”


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