The Single-Entry Approach (SEnA) conciliation-mediation mechanism, a major reform initiative of Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz, has once again proved its efficacy in settling labor dispute as it was through the mechanism that a labor dispute between the management and employees of Adamson University was resolved.
This was the gist of the report to Secretary Baldoz of National Conciliation and Mediation Board Executive Director Reynaldo Ubaldo who said institutional harmony and productivity in the university has been restored because of the settlement.
“The responsiveness of both parties to the efforts of the NCMB to resolve the dispute was key to the settlement,” reported Ubaldo.
The labor dispute was a Notice to Arbitrate, filed by the Adamson University Faculty and Employees Association for alleged violation of a provision in the collective bargaining agreement regarding school fees and other benefits, and unfair labor practice.
Immediately after the filing of the Notice to Arbitrate, NCMB-National Capital Region Director Amorsolo Aglibut assigned Conciliator-Mediator Estelita Bautista to facilitate the settlement. Bautista, in turn, convened both parties for a series of conciliation-mediation conferences through the SEnA until the dispute was settled.
Under the settlement, both parties agreed that the phrase, “free school fee” in Art. VIII of the CBA, which pertains to school privileges and benefits, shall refer only to tuition fees consisting of the unit lecture fee and unit laboratory fee, provided, that if a regular employee or his dependent is enrolled in a tutorial subject, any assessed amount in excess of the regular tuition and/or laboratory fees due to the tutorial nature of the subject shall be charged to the employee or his dependent.
The “free school fees” also refer to miscellaneous fees in the Basic Education Department (consisting of nine miscellaneous items); College Department (10 items); and Graduate School (seven miscellaneous items).
Both parties also agreed that a permanent faculty member or employee enrolled in the College of Law shall be charged the miscellaneous fees in full.
The settlement agreement also calls for the grant by the university of a 50 percent discount on airconditioning fee/energy cost which shall be prospectively applied in School Year 2014-2015. The university also waived the Nurturance Fee for dependents enrolled at the Basic Education Department.
Finally, the university, in consideration of the amicable settlement of the dispute, gifted the union a grant of P2.5 million for all its entitled members.
Baldoz was all praises to the union and management of the university. “A prolonged labor dispute could have had debilitating consequences to the university and its students. I am very glad that both parties were receptive, mature, and flexible to effect a settlement through conciliation-mediation under the SEnA,” she said.
She also cited Conciliator-Mediator Bautista for her facilitative role in the settlement of the dispute, saying the NCMB’s corps of experienced conciliators and mediators are up to the challenge of sustaining the country’s industrial peace.
“The SEnA, as an alternative dispute settlement mechanism works,” she also emphasized.
The SEnA is a reform measure Secretary Baldoz initiated in 2010 under D. O. 107 pursuant to the 22-point Labor and Employment Agenda of President Benigno S. Aquino III, particularly on seeking to avoid litigious and expensive proceedings, while promoting integrity, efficacy, and fairness in the delivery of labor justice in the country.
Under this reform, the DOLE and its attached agencies are mandated to strictly follow a 30-day mandatory conciliation-mediation process for all cases so that these will not mature into full-blown, legal proceedings. It is an administrative approach that provides speedy, impartial, inexpensive, and accessible settlement of all labor issues.
In just two years of implementation, because of its efficacy in settling requests for assistance (RFAs), the Congress has enacted R.A. 10396 institutionalizing conciliation-mediation as a mandatory mode of dispute settlement for all labor cases. President Aquino III signed it into law on 14 March 2013.