DOLE’s help sought to solve Silliman University labor dispute

Marchel P. Espina
DOLE’s help sought to solve Silliman University labor dispute
The dispute between Silliman University and its teachers leads to a strike on July 19 and the suspension of classes for elementary and high school levels on the following day

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – The administration of Silliman University (SU) in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, is seeking the help of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to settle a labor dispute between the school and its union members.

The dispute also led to the strike of teachers on July 19 and suspension of classes of its elementary and high school departments the following day.

Information and Publications office director Mark Raygan Garcia said Friday, July 21, that the school filed a petition with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) central office, asking Bello to assume jurisdiction of the labor dispute between the administration and the union and to issue an order of return to work.

He said they are still waiting for the decision of DOLE. 

The petition was filed on Thursday, July 20.

The Silliman University Faculty Association (SUFA) is asking for a wage increase and other benefits, but the school administration refused to give in to their demands.

Garcia said negotiations are still ongoing, adding that the administration is doing its best to meet the adjusted demands, guided by principle on “affordability, sustainability and fragility,” as he cited the K to 12 education and lower revenues.

Suspension of classes

Garcia said classes for the college level are ongoing as not all teachers joined the strike, but the Basic Education Department is “not full blast.”

A good number of the teachers who went on strike came from Basic Education Department, he added. 

He explained the rally on July 19 caused confusion for some of the parents and the pupils as the teachers on strike were rallying in front of the gate of the department.

Teachers also told the students to go home as there are no classes, he added.

He said school officials made an assessment of the situation and issued an advisory the next day telling the parents they are allowed not to bring their children to school until the strike is addressed or the issue is resolved.

“Many parents have expressed concern. We have to do part and assure them it’s okay for them not to send their children to school,” Garcia said.

Students were given home-based activities.

“We came out with adaptive measures in the event the teachers abandon their class. The administration will come into the picture, principals, chairpersons, deans, together with their relievers, to make sure learning opportunities for students will continue,” Garcia said.

He added the university has a total of 407 teachers, with more than 250 of them union members.

As of this writing, SUFA president Jan Credo is unavailable for a comment. – Rappler.com

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