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Retrenchment due to “ill will and malice” Solon lauds NLRC decision to reinstate illegally dismissed professors

15 November 2016 No Comment
15 November 2016 Reference: ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio (0920-922-0817)
ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio L. Tinio hailed a recent decision of the arbitration branch of the National Labor Relations Commission ordering the reinstatement of two retrenched Miriam College professors and awarding them backwages, moral and exemplary damages, and attorney’s fees. He urged the school to immediately comply with the ruling.
The college implemented a “voluntary” Early Separation Program in June 2015 and a Mandatory Separation Program in March 2016 which retrenched Professors Rebecca T. Añonuevo and Ann Debbie Tan along with all members of the General Education faculty. Retrenchment, Miriam alleged, is necessary to prevent projected economic losses due to the decline in enrollment due to the K to 12 Program and to ensure sustainability and viability.
Labor Arbiter Julio Gayaman, however, found that the school failed to prove the validity of retrenchment, which employers should use upon imminent and substantial loss and only as the last resort. Allegations of losses due to decline in enrollment brought by K to 12, he noted, is mere speculative and does not justify retrenchment unless the school proves it with clear and convincing evidence. “Since the school intended, from the very beginning to get rid of the tenured GE faculty, no reasonable criteria were formulated; the expected substantial loss was not proven; and no alternative measures were used.”
Tinio emphasized that the labor arbiter confirmed that K to 12 was used by private schools as a pretext to get rid of teaching and non-teaching employees, even those who are tenured and regular, a position which he and affected faculty from other schools raised as early as last year. The arbiter noted that circumstances show the “flimsy and insubstantial character of [Miriam’s] decision to retrench complainants,” including rehiring retrenched faculty on contractual basis and implementing its separation programs at a time when the IRR for the law is still being drafted and the constitutionality of the law itself is being questioned in the Supreme Court.
Tinio lauded Añonuevo and Tan for challenging their illegal retrenchment, saying that thanks to this, schools’ retrenchment of employees due to unfounded claims of K to 12-based losses is now a matter of public record.
“The marks of bad faith and ill will that the NLRC’s arbiter attributes to Miriam College were all present in the separation programs which other private schools implemented against their faculty and non-teaching personnel,” said Tinio. “We thus urge other K to 12-affected employees nationwide to stand up and fight for their security of tenure and other labor rights. We also urge the NLRC to stand with them and rule against any act which uses K to 12 as an excuse to defeat the rights of teachers and other education personnel.”
Tinio urged Miriam College to immediately comply with the decision considering the justice of the issue. Under the decision, the school is required to submit a report of compliance to the arbiter within ten days from receipt. ###

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