Silliman teachers strike after failed CBA negotiations

July 20, 2017 - 8:44 AM
(photo by Judy Flores Partlow, PNA)

DUMAGUETE CITY, Philippines — The Silliman University Faculty Association went on strike Wednesday, partially paralyzing classes at all levels as teachers took to the streets to demand increased wages and other benefits.

The SUFA declared a strike after months of negotiations failed to produce an agreement on seven deadlocked issues, SUFA president Professor Jan Credo said.

Credo said they filed a notice of strike last March 31.

The striking teachers braved the rains early Wednesday, carrying placards and positioning themselves at major gates and entryways to the university.

The demands of SUFA include a one-time bonus of P38,000, across-the-board increases of P1,500 in the second year (effective June 1, 2017) and P2,300 on the third year (effective June 1, 2018); Christmas and Founders’ Day bonus; K+12 Transition Scholar’s Subsidy; reduction in class sizes in the Early Childhood (Kindergarten 1 and 2) and Elementary (Grades 1 and 2); improvement in retirement pay; and the administration’s proposal of a Productivity Enhancement Incentive (14th month pay) without conditions.

The union is asking about P86 million, but the university administration is willing to give only P63 million.

During a press conference Wednesday morning, members of the administration negotiating panel said the university cannot afford to give in to the faculty members’ demands, citing a drop in enrollment this year and less income due to the transition to the K-12 program and other reasons.

When asked if the P63-million is non-negotiable, the administration explained this is only what they can afford as they are also looking at “sustainability” in the coming years.

But SUFA members said while teachers are being paid a monthly salary of from P19,000 to P40,000, top management level officials are getting P80,000 to P100,000 a month.

Lawyer Joshua Ablong, a member of the administration’s negotiating panel and chief of the Human Resources Division, admitted during the press conference that the university president receives P100,000 a month in wages.

Silliman University’s chief negotiator, College of Law dean Sheila Besario, said classes are not suspended despite the strike.

The university administration assured that “adaptive measures” are being taken so classes would not be disrupted by the ongoing strike, among these deploying teachers not taking part in the strike, student-teachers, and the possible merger of sections, among others.

The administration denied they will be hiring “replacement teachers.”

Credo said the union has 280 members, although some teachers did not join the strike on the first day.

Exequiel Sarcauga, regional director of the Department of Labor, said they hope to reach a settlement at their, otherwise Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III will assume jurisdiction of the dispute.