Union questions Holy Cross of Davao’s mass layoff of teachers and staff

Dec. 01, 2020

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The union of Holy Cross of Davao College (HCDC) is questioning its administration’s move to retrench all 159 teachers and personnel amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The move was deemed “illegal” by both the union and the Kilusang Mayo Uno Southern Mindanao.

The announcement of retrenchment was made by a letter from HCDC President Brother Noelvic Deloria last November 23, where they announced the school will be retrenching employees and that its Basic Education Department will be suspended on the next academic year 2021 to 2022.

It stated that all HCDC employees will be retrenched starting December 31 for the college level and non-teaching staff, January 31, 2021 for its graduate school, and May 31, 2021 for basic education.

The administration said retrenched employees are entitled to receive separation payment of an equivalent one-half month or one month of their salary for their length of service depending which is higher. Early retirement was also offered to eligible and interested employees.

Deloria said that college and graduate school programs for the second semester will continue but “at a level of personnel that is significantly reduced and based on prevailing market needs and restructured finances.”

Holy Cross is managed by the Archdiocese of Davao and is one of the premiere colleges in Davao City.

“Illegal, union busting”

The Holy Cross of Davao College Faculty Union has filed a case of unfair labor practice and union busting before the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) after learning about the retrenchment.

Reneboy Libot, a member of the faculty union, said the NCMB even questioned the administration’s use of the word retrenchment.

“By Nov. 24, we had a conference and the NCMB itself clarified that the term of ‘retrench all’ is only applicable to closure. The school had guaranteed that they will continue to operate by second semester,” Libot said.

Libot said that the union has expressed openness to discuss with the school administration to discuss “as a community” the survival of the institution amid the pandemic.

He said the union initially talked to the administration that they are willing to have a reduction of their basic salaries by 30% in order to prevent layoffs of the faculty and employees.

Libot, however, said that despite a series of talks, the union failed to come to an agreement, and was informed of the administration’s loss of income. Libot said this is “contrary to SEC (Securities and Exchange) data, that showed net profit (from the school operation).”

KMU SMR said the move by the Holy Cross administration is illegal.

“Under the law, there is no such mode of retrenching. Legally, employers can retrench all their employees only if the business will cease to operate. Therefore, HCDCI’s move is tainted with illegality,” the labor group said in a post on their Facebook account.

The labor group added the school administration “is taking advantage of the present pandemic in justifying the adverse effect of the current situation to its operations.”

They added that the termination of employees is “atrocious” especially in times where job opportunities in this country are “very dire”, KMU said.

“We view the action as a plain maneuver to get rid of the employees’ union and negate the hard-earned and long years of gained benefits,” they added.

The HCDC administration has yet to respond to KMU’s statement as of this posting. (davaotoday.com)

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