MANILA — It was another victory for groups opposing the implementation of the K to 12 program as retrenched professors from Miriam College won the case they filed before the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC).
The NLRC orders the reinstatement of two professors dismissed by the Miriam College in June this year. Professors Rebecca T. Añonuevo and Ann Debbie Lao Tan, both multi-awarded writers and other members of the General Education faculty, who have all been working for Miriam College for years, were among those who were retrenched.
Labor Arbiter Julio Gayaman “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.”
The arbiter found Miriam College’s claim of losses due to the decline in enrollment brought about by K to 12 merely speculative. “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.”
“The flimsy and insubstantial character of the respondents’ decision to retrench complainants is thus exposed,” the decision read.
It added that “Retrenchment is supposed to be a reduction of personnel. In this instance, there is no reduction of personnel, but an intention from the very beginning to wipe out all GE faculty members.”
Actually, Miriam College has been rehiring the GE faculty members it retrenched, but as contractual workers.
On top of ordering the affected teachers’ reinstatement, the NLRC also directed Miriam College administration to pay backwages, moral and exemplary damages, and attorney’s fees.
The arbiter required the Miriam College administration to submit a report of compliance to his office within ten days from receiving the NLRC order.
ACT Teachers Party Rep. Antonio Tinio hailed the decision of NLRC and urged the school to immediately comply with the ruling.
He also lauded Añonuevo and Tan for having taken action against their illegal retrenchment. He said the 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.
The ACT lawmaker urged other employees affected by the K to 12 implementation to stand up and fight for their security of tenure and other labor rights.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers is also appreciative of the recent decision. ACT President Benjie Valbuena said that the positive decision in the case is an affirmation of their struggles. “We hope that more teachers and employees will be emboldened to come out and join the movement against the K to 12 program.”
He urged all those teachers to join their efforts at exposing not just their specific school’s schemes on using K to 12 Program to retrench their employees and assault teachers’ security of tenure, but “also exposes the ills of privatization and commercialization of education.”
Tinio also urged the NLRC to stand with the teachers and non-teaching personnel and “rule against any act which uses K to 12 as an excuse to defeat the rights of teachers and other education personnel.”