TWO FACULTY members on Thursday hit back at the Samahang Manggagawa-UST for its call on the UST Faculty Union (USTFU) to negotiate first with the administration to get its share of tuition increases.

Former union vice president Rene Tadle and labor lawyer Danielito Jimenez said USTFU had the right reasons to request for the immediate distribution of tuition hikes from previous academic years.

Tadle, co-convener of the Council of Teachers and Staff of Universities and Colleges in the Philippines, argued that the amounts had been collected and partly used to cover the cost of 3-unit incentives given to faculty as part of K-to-12 adjustment measures.

Thus, there is no reason for the UST administration to hold on to previous years’ tuition increase collections, he said. “The only thing that the USTFU panel and UST management should discuss is the manner of the distribution,” Tadle told the Varsitarian.

Jimenez described as “unnecessary” the support staff’s call on the faculty to first negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), since USTFU’s appeal was “not without any practical and legal basis.”

Under Republic Act 6728 or the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education, 70 percent of tuition increases must go to salaries of faculty and staff.

SM-UST signed a new CBA, which lays down terms and conditions of work as well as other benefits, with the administration last year.

USTFU has yet to conclude a new CBA with the university. The previous faculty CBA, ratified in 2014, ran from 2011 to 2016.

Jimenez and Tadle recalled that a similar distribution was done without a CBA negotiation during the administration of Rector Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P. 

“Legally, while the [tuition] share may be subject to a CBA negotiation, it can also be distributed without it, and both laws and jurisprudence support this,” Jimenez said.

Jimenez also pointed out that the Covid-19 pandemic has overtaken the negotiation, and any further negotiation would serve no other purpose but potentially delay the release of the funds that “rightfully and justifiably” belongs to the faculty members.

SM-UST’s statement that the Covid-19 pandemic should not be used as an excuse is uncalled for and insensitive as crafting a new CBA is “impossible and may only likely be a cause for further delay,” Jimenez said.

“If negotiation, as suggested, will proceed regardless of the pandemic, even the required ratification will still be a challenge given that the USTFU CBL (constitution and by-laws) requires an actual general assembly and not a virtual one,” Jimenez told the Varsitarian

Jimenez also said  the faculty members’ share must be immediately released as it would be a challenge to conduct any negotiation and ratification with the term of the USTFU officers and negotiators expiring in September.  


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