Philippine labor

Xavier-Ateneo workers threaten to go on strike over ‘union-busting’

Herbie Gomez
Xavier-Ateneo workers threaten to go on strike over ‘union-busting’

The Jesuit-owned Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan in Cagayan de Oro City

Herbie Gomez/Rappler

The Xavier University Non-Teaching Employees Labor Union files a notice of strike with the National Conciliation and Mediation Board, accusing the Jesuit-owned university of union-busting

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Organized workers of the Jesuit-owned Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan have threatened to go on strike to protest the non-recognition of their leaders as their representatives in negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

Lawyer Proculo Sarmen, regional vice president of the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) in Northern Mindanao, said on Tuesday, March 15, that the university’s non-teaching workers only wanted Xavier to recognize Jermie Danuco as their union president, and Orlin Torillo as their treasurer.

The Xavier University Non-Teaching Employees Labor Union (XUNTELU) filed a notice of strike with the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) on February 28. 

The union accused the university of unfair labor practices, particularly, union-busting.

By March 4, the university filed a motion to convert the notice of strike to preventive mediation, a move brushed aside by NCMB regional director Ligaya Lumbay.

Lumbay wrote to Xavier-University president Father Mars Tan, saying the NCMB cannot rule on Xavier-Ateneo’s motion since the board is not a quasi-judicial body, and can only mediate.

Sarmen told Rappler that XUNTELU, which has a membership of 140 non-teaching workers of the university, demanded proper representation in all labor-management relations proceedings.

He also said negotiations for a fresh CBA between Xavier and the workers’ union have been delayed for more than two years.

The university subsequently agreed to send a Catholic priest and a lawyer to sit down with union leaders in marathon conciliation and mediation proceedings at the NCMB. Initial talks are ongoing as of this posting.

Sarmen said the union welcomed the development because the relationship between labor and management at the university “has been greatly mismanaged by the XU Human Relations Department.”

“I hope the labor dispute will be settled peacefully to promote industrial peace,” said Sarmen.

But he warned that the workers were “ready for a full-blown legal strike” unless the union’s demand for the recognition of their representatives was met.

“All legal requirements have already been complied with” for a strike, he said. “It’s a basic right provided for in the Philippine Constitution. Just respect the rights of the workers to choose their own representatives in all labor relations proceedings.” – Rappler.com