Ateneo employees stage protest to demand higher wages

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Ateneo de Manila University employees spent their lunch hour along the streets of Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City on Wednesday, January 3, as they staged a protest to demand higher wages and more benefits. 

In their notice to the school community, the Ateneo Employees and Workers Union (AEWU) said that their negotiations with the university administration on their collective bargaining agreement (CBA) proposals have reached “deadlock."

“It has been more than 6 months since the [AEWU] submitted its CBA proposals for the years 2017-2019 to the Ateneo. While a number of items have been agreed upon during the negotiations that ensued, no agreement was reached on major items, particularly those on wages,” the labor union said in a statement. 

The employees also expressed frustration, saying that no agreement would be reached in the preventive mediation to be facilitated by the National Conciliation and Mediation Board. 

According to AEWU, Ateneo refused to reconsider limiting the budget for improving the employees' benefits to 4.72% of 70% of the total tuition fee increase for 2017, and projected increase for 2018. 

“In absolute figures, this is roughly P8.77 million for the said two years….AEWU reminded Ateneo that the 70% TFI set aside for improvements in wages and benefits is only the minimum set by law (RA 6728) and schools are not prohibited from giving additional increases provided there are funds for it,” AEWU said. 

The workers argued that the school has enough funds to provide “reasonable increases” since its financial statements show that it has net incomes of P350 million (2015), P382 million (2016), and P415 million (2017). 

In a statement released on Friday, January 5, the university’s CBA Administration Panel explained that the amount demanded by AEWU is equivalent to P85 million for its 246 members for the two-year period of the 5-year agreement. This will only leave P96 million for the 2,863 non-union employees, it said.

“The amount demanded by the Union is about P40,684,586 for FY 2017-2018 and another P45,563,395 for FY 2018-2019. For the two-year period, this would comprise around 47% of what is earmarked for the whole University,” said the panel. 

It pointed out that the union only comprised 7.91% of their entire workforce.  

The panel also clarified that it increased its initial offer from 4.72% of the TFI to 5.91% for the 3rd year, and 5.93% for the 5th year during their last conciliation held December 21, 2017.

“Please be assured that the administration will continue to participate in this process of negotiation and communication in good faith with respect to the cooling off period,” said the University in a Facebook post on Wednesday, January 3. – Rappler.com

Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.

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