20 July 2016
Reference: ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio L. Tinio (09209220817)
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III vowed to fast track two cases against Miriam College filed by two of the teachers it retrenched due to K to 12. He also committed to check on several schools which retrenched teachers through questionable claims of financial losses due to K to 12 and their compliance with labor laws on salaries and benefits, security of tenure, contractual employment, and others.
The labor chief said these at a dialogue yesterday by ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio at the DOLE central office, Manila, where representatives of faculty and staff of various colleges and universities, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT)-Private Schools, ACT State Universities and Colleges, and the Council of Teachers and Staff of Colleges and Universities of the Philippines (COTESCUP) briefed him on the labor implications of the K to 12 program. Among those who were able to attend the meeting were the retrenched faculty of Miriam College and San Sebastian College-Recoletos, and concerned professors of San Beda College-Manila, University of Santo Tomas, and Centro Escolar University. Those who were retrenched said the schools alleged “projected losses” due to K to 12 and “viability and long-term sustainability” as reasons for the retrenchment.
Two of the Miriam faculty filed cases of illegal dismissal and denial of wages, and another is set to be filed.
Bello said that he will ask the handling Labor Arbiters to act on these cases as fast as possible.
Other participants also informed Bello of the experiences of other faculty of these schools, University of Santo Tomas, Saint Louis University and other HEIs in CAR, and others who are already laid off due to retrenchment, forced separation or resignation, or non-renewal of contracts, or in danger of being laid off in the coming months until next year. These teachers are then asked to apply in these schools’ senior high school programs or “re-engagement” under part-time or fixed-term, non-tenure track contracts—with lower pay and no benefits.
Bello said that such practice is illegal since the rehiring means that the teachers are still needed. Other indications like continued enrollment, these schools’ financial statements, and application for tuition fee increase belie their alleged losses.
With the teachers’ allegations, Bello said that his agency will invite these schools to explain to check on whether there were valid grounds for retrenchment.
The practice of “endo” or end of contract prevalent in the service sector is now also common in the education sector, the teachers told Bello.
Citing DOLE data, COTESCUP also revealed that private schools in basic and tertiary education have a dismal record of compliance with labor standards laws such as minimum wage, benefits, regular employment, and occupational safety and health.
He encouraged teachers to give DOLE facts on layoffs and contractualization due to K to 12 to enable them to investigate.
“We welcome these commitments from Secretary Bello, given this data and the current reality that schools are using K to 12 as the opportunity to violate security of tenure, avoid paying decent wages, and save labor costs by hiring more contractual employees,” said Tinio. “This is an opportune time for government to assert more regulatory power over private schools while protecting the rights of teaching and non-teaching personnel and ensuring quality education at the same time.”
Bello also committed to streamline the process for its Adjustment Measures Program (AMP), the P500 million fund intended for the financial support, employment facilitation, and training and livelihood of teachers and non-teaching staff in higher education institutions (HEIs) displaced by K to 12.
The dialogue is the latest in a series of engagements with government agencies aimed to inform them of the real situation of education workers under the Aquino administration’s K to 12 Program. The group’s recent dialogue with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) resulted in a memorandum implementing a restraining order of the Supreme Court against the removal of Filipino in the new General Education Curriculum, thus preventing the further retrenchment of Filipino faculty and closures of Filipino departments.
Tinio and the professors vowed to follow through with other such talks with the Department of Education, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, and the K to 12 inter-agency body composed of these two, CHED, and DOLE, as well as ensure the commitments of these agencies.
Tinio also vowed to pursue in Congress a critical review of the implementation of K to 12, considering its labor implications as raised by their group, among others. ###
Please be informed of the following correction (in bold) to the press release yesterday of Rep. Antonio Tinio. We request for the necessary corrections and apologize for any inconvenience.
NOTE: Only faculty from Miriam College and San Sebastian reported instances of retrenchment. Issues for the other schools are endo, rehiring as contractuals, diminution of benefits, among others.