RCMB-CAR Director Gil G. Caragayan handled the first K to 12 issue submitted by the Kapatiran ng mga Empleyado ng University of the Cordilleras through a preventive mediation case filed on July 25, 2016. The Kapatiran raised the lone issue on the lawfulness of the transfer of the college faculty to teach in the Senior High School with lower compensation.

Incidentally, the university is implementing its K-12 program effective school year 2016-2017.  The K to 12 Program covers Kindergarten and 12 years of basic education. It is broken down to 6 years of primary education, 4 years of Junior High School (JHS), and 2 years of Senior High School (SHS). According to DepEd, the K-12 aims to provide sufficient time for mastery of concepts and skills, to develop skills at the middle level age of education, to promote entrepreneurship, and to generate employment.

The issue stemmed when management informed the union that the faculty members who will teach in the Senior High School should be considered as resigned. Hence, they should reapply, and should receive lower compensation as they used to enjoy.

In the conference, the Management argued that there will be no interruption in the years of service of faculty members, but they should agree to a lower rate of compensation in teaching at Senior High School.

To break the impasse, Director Gil made two cogent proposals. First, he proposed that the retirement benefits of the affected faculty shall be paid as embodied in the CBA.   The faculty may reapply to teach in the Senior High School, and agree to a lower rate. Second, he proposed that the faculty can teach in the Senior High School without breach in the years of their service. However, these faculty members have to be paid their retirement benefits or separation pay based on the years of service as faculty members or teachers at Senior High School.

The union and management rejected the conciliator’s proposal. Parties were inflexible. To end the labor dispute, Dir. Caragayan convinced the parties to submit the case to the orbit of voluntary arbitration.  Parties agreed and chose Accredited Voluntary Arbitrator Tomas B. Gorospe to arbitrate the issue on whether or not the implementation of the K to 12 program by the university is valid and reasonable. If yes, what are the remedies, if no, what are the remedies.

Still, voluntary arbitration is the better alternative to dispute resolution!

Cresencia M. Pawingi