Ateneo, workers union reach agreement on wages, benefits

Aika Rey
Ateneo, workers union reach agreement on wages, benefits
The Ateneo Employees and Workers Union lifts its two-day-old strike after agreeing on merit wage increases and non-wage benefits

MANILA, Philippines – The Ateneo de Manila University management and the Ateneo Employees and Workers Union (AEWU) finally agreed on wage increase and benefits terms on Friday, February 23,  ending the labor strike called two days ago.

AEWU president Sonnie Amata told Rappler in a phone interview that merit salary increases and non-wage benefits were the last items being negotiated on the terms of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

Amata said that during the CBA negotiations AEWU agreed to the university’s proposal of merit wage increase of up to 4% until the 4th year of the CBA and up to 3.5% on the 5th year, depending on the performance of the employee.

However, the union argued that the proposed P1.3 million non-wage benefits such as dependence allowance and increase in educational subsidy for family members studying in Ateneo should not be taken out of the CBA. 

“In the first place, we already gave up the non-wage benefits so that we can demand for better merit wage calibration and salary cap but they insisted that their proposal be followed,” Amata said in a mix of English and Filipino.

The CBA talks ended at 4 am on Wednesday, February 21, with the university panel refusing to include the non-wage benefits proposal of the AEWU. The union went on strike at 5 am. (READ: Ateneo employees stage protest to demand higher wages)

“The terms on non-wage benefits should be included in the CBA or else we will continue to be on strike,” Amata added.

Two days into the strike, in mediation talks facilitated by the National Conciliation and Mediation Board, the AEWU and the university panel finally agreed on Friday the terms of the merit increase and non-wage benefits.

The merit increase will follow the university proposal and a collective fund of P1.5 million in non-wage benefits for union members to access – higher than the proposed amount.

Upon the resolution of the CBA, the AEWU also announced on Friday that the workers were no longer on strike.

In a letter to the university community, ADMU president Fr Jose Ramon Villarin SJ announced the results of the CBA.

“These have been difficult months and I thank the community for their patience, prayers, and support. I have called this a teaching and learning moment, and admit that some lessons were difficult. God willing, we shall build a stronger community as we fulfill his mission for his people,” Villarin said.

The CBA will be signed with labor secretary Silvestre Bello III on Tuesday, February 27.

In January, the AEWU said that the CBA negotiations with the university administration on the CBA had reached a “deadlock”. Both ADMU management and AEWU agreed to resume talks under the supervision of the NCMB.

The AEWU consists of 246 members as of June 1, 2017, out of the 2,863 total employees of the Ateneo. – Rappler.com

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Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.