Union chief defends backdoor talks in 2014 negotiations

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Dr. George Lim addresses faculty members during the general assembly of the UST Faculty Union on Oct. 18. (Photo by Hazel Grace S. Posadas/The Varsitarian)

UST FACULTY Union (USTFU) President Dr. George Lim lashed out on his critics in the recent union general assembly, defending his backdoor negotiation with the University administration in the previous collective bargaining agreement (CBA) negotiation.

Lim said the backdoor negotiation in 2014 with UST Rector Fr. Herminio Dagohoy, O.P. was an alternative after the formal negotiation with the administration reached a deadlock.

“Backdoor negotiation is nothing negative, bad [or] evil. It is simply an alternative to negotiation in an open formal table,” Lim said in his president’s report during their general assembly on Oct. 18.

He added it was Dagohoy who called him for a negotiation without the presence of the union’s negotiating panel.

A deadlock is declared when the management and employee panels fail to agree on proposals during CBA negotiations, and could be a prelude to a strike.

In a consolidated statement sent to the Varsitarian, the newly elected set of union CBA negotiators said Lim compromised the rights and benefits of faculty members acquired from previous CBAs through his backdoor negotiation.

“Lim only has himself to blame. But the sad truth is he deceived the faculty members and up to the present remains remorseless about it and continue to cover up his sins to the faculty. There is no doubt [that] Lim’s backdoor negotiation will go down in the history of USTFU as the worst kind of negotiation where the rights and benefits of faculty members were sold out for nothing!” the negotiators said.

P150 million incentive

Lim also clarified the P55-million deduction from the supposed P81.8-million faculty pay hike supposed to come from the tuition increases under the existing previous CBA. He clarified that it actually took P150 million to finance the incentive in which a faculty member’s full load was reduced by 3 units to 21 units but was still paid for 24 units.

He said P20 million wasgiven to the professors, P30 million to associate professors, P50 million to assistant professors and another P50 million to instructors.

Lim said the USTFU Executive Board came up with the decision to take the cost of the salary increase from the tuition hike.

Charging the three-unit incentive to the 70-percent faculty share of tuition hikes deprived other faculty members and non-teaching academic staff of their rightful salary adjustments, the critics alleged.

In the union’s general assembly last year, then union vice president Rene Luis Tadle questioned why USTFU officials agreed to deduct P55 million from P81.8 million in tuition hike collections to pay for incentives to higher ranked professors whose loads were reduced due to the K to 12 transition.

By law, 70 percent of tuition hikes must go to salary and other benefits of all faculty members. 

Lim also defended his decision to inhibit from the CBA negotiation panel as he did not want to get involved anymore in the dispute.

“[If] you want to negotiate, [if] you think you are better negotiators [and] you can get more benefits for the faculty members, by all means I am all for that,” Lim said.

Lim inhibited from the 2016 to 2021 CBA talks in August after the elected negotiators contested his inclusion as chairman as he was not elected to be part of the panel.

Lawyer Jose Ngo Jr., Edilberto Gonzaga, Emerito Gonzales, Rebecca Adri and Michelle Desierto were elected members of the USTFU CBA panel 2016-2021 last May 28.

Looming impeachment

Lim addressed rumors about some faculty members allegedly seeking to unseat him as union president, asking if the impeachment was the majority’s desire or was propagated by “a noisy group.”

“I do not expect to be here forever. [I]f the majority wants me out, [I have] no issue [with that]. I would be happy to do that… I have done my part,” he said.

Last year, a signature campaign calling on USTFU officials to resign was launched following the controversial outcome of the union’s negotiation with the administration.

Some faculty members also condemned the presence of some 20 security guards during their general assembly last Oct. 18 at the Medicine Auditorium. 

They said the presence of the security guards during the assembly was a sort of “intimidation, threat and insult” to the teachers’ capability to behave well.

The recent general assembly also deviated from the traditional setup where the USTFU board was seated on the stage to discuss their agenda.  

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