You may have seen the ongoing picket at Xavier University by members of the XU Non-Teaching Employees Union (XUNTELU). The group has been holding a peaceful rally at Magsaysay Park in the late afternoon calling for some benefits due to them.
Accordingly, the problem stemmed when the XU management announced it is unable to provide Christmas cash gifts to its employees this year, a practice that started in 1997. Here are some photos of the rally right across the XU Campus.
Placards in display during the rally.
Candle lighting and prayers for the union.
The XU Non-teaching Employees Union is affiliated with the Associated Labor Union – Trade Union Congress of the Phils. (ALU-TUCP). Shown below are the union officers with ALU-TUCP Regional Vice President Nicandro Borja (left).
Meanwhile, XU released an official statement as shown below.
XAVIER UNIVERSITY’S CALL FOR SOLIDARITY IN THE MIDST OF ITS FINANCIAL CHALLENGES
Press Statement – 16 November 2016
Xavier University is unable to provide Christmas Cash Gifts to her employees this year due to the unprecedented losses in our operations. The severe decline in the financial health of the University is expected to get worse before it can get better in light of the K+12 transition years.
While it has been a past practice, the Christmas Cash Gift is not a benefit, but a “gift” which is not obligatory. As a gratuity, it is not listed among the benefits in our Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
Our staff handbook states that employees may receive “cash gifts, as authorized by the President on special occasions” (p. 19, 3rd edition, 2007). The granting of a cash gift is solely a Management Prerogative and an act of generosity beyond what is strictly due to the recipient. It is a Gratuity, a way to show graciousness that is in no sense a reward for performing duties past, present or future. As such, it shall not be construed as a university obligation nor can it ripen into a benefit. Cash gifts have been given usually in December as a gratuity given as a genuine Christmas gift.
The ability of the University to give a cash gift depends on the net income (excess of revenue over expenses) from school operations of the previous school year as reported in the audited financial statements. The President determines what portion of the net income can be given as cash gift to all full-time employees, taking into consideration all the financial needs of the University.
The net loss from school operations was P160M during SY2014-2015 and P90M in SY2015-2016. Operational losses of these magnitudes are unprecedented, never seen before by XU. In the last 20 years, the previous loss was in SY2008-2009 and it was only P8M. The budget approved by the Board of Trustees for SY1617 is projected to result in a deficit of P199M. The losses are primarily a result of decreasing enrollment from the highest of 16,313 in SY2010-2011 down to 13,729 in SY2016-2017.
This decreasing trend is exacerbated by the loss of tertiary enrollment during the K-12 transition years (2016-2020) as Senior High School is being established and there are no students for two college year levels.
Beginning SY 2016-2017, a cash gift will be apportioned only if there is net income realized from the previous school year. As we all share when the University is doing well financially, the President appeals that we also help when XU is financially challenged.
We deeply regret that we cannot afford to distribute cash gifts to our employees and service personnel as we have done during better times due to the substantial losses from our school operations in the previous two school years. However, in consideration of the appeals that have been received, we asked each unit to sacrifice some items from their respective budgets to be able to allot Php1,000.00 per full-time employee as a Christmas gift. We welcome the initiatives and inputs of different groups to keep our processes consultative and open.
Xavier has done its best to take care of its employees. The suspension of the cash gift is only temporary and will resume once financial health is restored. We continue to value the support of the XU community members and we call for further understanding, cooperation, and solidarity as we journey to restore the financial status of the University. We are grateful for the blessings that continue to come our way and pray that we fan the flames of gratitude even as we are buffeted by winds of uncertainty.
It can be recalled that last May 19, 2016 or five months ago, the management of Xavier University and XUNTELU signed a new five-year collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with effectivity from June 1, 2015 until May 31, 2020. LINK