FEU emergency measures lead to furloughing of staff

FEU Advocate
September 26, 2020 08:30

By Arabella Rochynne C. Asis

Effective last September 1 of the current year, 44 non-teaching employees of Far Eastern University (FEU) were put on 'furlough status' until February 28, 2021. 

The administration stated to FEU Advocate that the workforce in the University had to adapt due to the global health crisis. 

"Due to the serious economic impact brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty of its duration, management decided to implement emergency measures to ensure the sustainability of the institution," Assistant Vice President for Human Resource Division Jefferson Aquino shared. 

Further, the administration had decided to retain employees that are essential to “business continuity” only.

Aquino also clarified that the plan was implemented in response to the present circumstances and not in any way a reflection of the employees’ work performance or their value or commitment to the University. 

Last March 4, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) released Labor Advisory No. 9 which suggested flexible working arrangements. 

In accordance, staff that were not affected by this measure were grouped into Work-from Home (WFH) and Rotational Teams on compressed work week with two teams alternately reporting for two weeks.

Labor union pledges for consideration and assistance

Prior to the announcement of the furlough an online meeting was held last July 3 about the 6% basic salary increase to be effective on July 16. 

It was then requested to decrease the agreement to 3% as an emergency measure for the University funds, which the union members had agreed upon. 

After a month, another meeting was held to announce the decision of the administration to lay off employees that are non-essential. 

“To be honest, lahat kami nagulantang (we were all startled), we were caught flat-footed,” FEU Employees Labor Union President Rex Dominguez Jr. shared. 

According to Dominguez, they submitted a union motion initiative to have a pay cut equivalent to 10% of their salary monthly to save the furloughed staff, but it was not favorably granted due to possible complications in the University emergency measures. 

On the other hand, contractual employees such as janitors were given financial assistance from March to May. 

Kung iyong mga by contract lang ng FEU nabigyan niyo ng assistance, ano pa kaming mga mismong empleyado niyo na kapamilya niyo na (If you can give assistance to the contract workers in FEU why can’t you extend it to your employees who are part of the family),” he expressed. 

As of now, the Union has been extending their help to the affected staff by having voluntary contributions.

Nothing is certain as of now on what will happen after the six months separation from employment since the administration still needs to follow protocols from the national government on the COVID-19 situation.