Mediation board will handle VECO labor dispute, says DOLE-7 chief
VECO management: It’s business as usual; VECEU assures: we’ll continue to report for work
The Department of Labor and Employment in Central Visayas (DOLE-7) is hopeful that the labor dispute between the employees and management of the Visayan Electric Co. (VECO) will be resolved before the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB)-7 and will no longer result to filing of formal charges.
On Monday, officers and members of the VECO Employees Union (VECEU) voted to strike after a deadlock on their Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
Aside from the CBA deadlock, DOLE-7 Regional Director, lawyer Alvin Villamor, said that earlier, the group had also filed a notice of strike, due to unfair labor practices (ULP).
“I have full trust and confidence with NCMB-7. Let’s leave it to them for the meantime,” Villamor said, adding that he had not seen any indication that the group would formally file a case against VECO, unless the office of the Labor Secretary would intervene and assume jurisdiction over the situation.
Villamor said that the union’s complaints include the issue of wages, labor-only-contracting, and illegal dismissal of employees among others.
“But we believe that VECO has no intention in busting the union. We don’t speculate especially that the company is participating on dialogues with the employees,” he added.
He revealed that based on their procedure, the union officials and members could undergo a strike within 15 days on the issue on ULP while 30 days for the CBA deadlock.
“NCMB-7 gives support by processing their notice of strike. But we just don’t want to be actively participating in their actions. They are still in the level of dialogue for the exercise of their freedom of expression so that they can express their concerns,” he said.
If NCMB-7 fails to resolve the issue between the union and VECO, Villamor said that they could always file a formal complaint against the company.
Meanwhile, VECO management has assured its customers that it is business as usual for them and that their operations will not be affected despite the union’s NOS filing and the ongoing mediation.
“VECO assures all its customers that it is business as usual for the distribution utility. Rest assured that VECO will continue to serve our customers with the kind of excellent customer service we have been known for throughout the years,” said VECO Chief Operating Officer Anton Mari Perdices in a statement.
But Perdices belied the allegations of the union that the management had engaged in unfair labor practices.
However, there was a deadlock in the CBA.
VECO said the only reason for the deadlock in the CBA was their disagreement on the salary increase.
“Management is offering a percentage-based, across the board salary increase on top of the merit increase based on performance while the employees’ union wants a fixed absolute amount regardless of tenure and performance,” Perdices said.
“Management feels strongly that the existing CBA is fair and reasonable. The proposal, plus the existing benefits enjoyed by VECO employees is already more than enough,” he added.
According to VECO, their employees enjoy benefits that would translate to almost 17 months of pay, including 22 to 24 vacation leaves and 22 to 24 sick leaves.
On the part of the members and officials of VECEU, they also assured that despite the filing of the NOS, they would continue to report for work.
According to Roberto Pejana, treasurer and spokesperson of VECEU-NAFLU-KMU, said that they would continue working until they would get an update from the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) regarding the two NOS they filed which were based on three grounds.
“We will just wait for the NCMB’s decision. For now, the mediation among both parties will continue. We will have another meeting this Thursday. We already had two meetings last week and last Monday,” he said.
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