A collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that “invests in the future.”
After 10 negotiation sessions over six weeks, the Philippine Daily Inquirer and the Philippine Daily Inquirer Employees Union on Tuesday signed a new, three-year CBA—a compact that PDI president and CEO Alexandra Prieto-Romualdez called a strategic investment, made at a time when the newspaper industry faced increasing challenges.
Those challenges, discussed in depth during the negotiations, were reflected in the final agreement.
The total cost of the new CBA is about 15 percent less than that of 2010, reducing the financial impact on the company. At the same time, the deal preserved the wage increase scheme of the 2010 CBA, guaranteeing employees industry-competitive salaries over the next three years.
Among the highlights of the new agreement, the expansion of the company’s unique study leave privilege stood out.
“We thank the management for the expanded educational program,” Joel Nigos, the new union president and chair of the union panel, said at the signing ceremony. “Employees now can go back to school and advance in their careers while keeping their jobs. This is something unique to the Inquirer. Now I’m even more proud to be a part of this company.”
Both Nigos and Rene Reinoso, the company COO who served as chair of the management panel, spoke candidly about the difficulties of this year’s negotiations.
Reinoso said the negotiators “never considered bringing both panels to the Department of Labor and Employment mediation board as an option but instead chose to find resolution amongst ourselves in the spirit of a peaceful, sincere and just CBA.”
Nigos echoed the sentiment: “What makes this agreement to a new CBA special is we have proved that we can come to one without the need for third parties. We are one family. We can resolve our differences without going through mediation. We can balance the welfare of our employees while ensuring the company’s sustainability for the benefit of all its stakeholders.”
The agreement takes effect retroactively on July 11, 2013, and extends until July 10, 2016. Of the Inquirer’s 408 employees, 248 are union members.
The members of the management panel included Evelyn Escueta, Neyla Manzano, John Nery, Jose Gil Pineda, Jesse Francis Rebustillo, Raymund Soberano, Rolando Suarez and Abelardo Ulanday.
On the union panel were Jerome Aning, TJ Burgonio, Regina de la Paz, Christian Esguerra, Jesylou Lacsamana, Alje Lomuntad, Noemi Melican, Grig Montegrande and Marlon Ramos.
In his remarks at the signing ceremony, Reinoso said in Filipino: “Let us always promise ourselves that we will do everything we can to care for, to shore up, to strengthen and to grow the Philippine Daily Inquirer starting now and in the years to come.”