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PDI, employees union sign ‘win-win’ CBA

The Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) and the Philippine Daily Inquirer Employees Union (PDIEU) on Friday signed a new, three-year collective bargaining agreement (CBA) hailed as a “win-win” for both employees and the company despite the “extraordinary challenges” besetting the 34-year-old newspaper.

PDIEU president Jerome Aning, head of the union negotiating panel, said that after the CBA negotiations were concluded last month, several people asked him who “won” in the negotiations.

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“I said CBA negotiations should never be regarded as a contest,” Aning said in his remarks at the signing ceremony held at the PDI offices in Makati City.

“Admittedly, I was tempted to say, with basis of course, that the union was the greater victor. Because in most companies in the country, there are no such things as CBAs, much less unions. But then, our CBA, our contract, benefits both sides,” he said.

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‘Victory for both sides’

The fact that the company and the union sat down to negotiate and came out with a contract was “already a victory for both sides,” Aning said, adding “the union respects capital’s legitimate investment’s returns [while] the company respects labor’s share in the fruits of its work.”

The new CBA, which took effect retroactively on July 11 and will be in effect until 2021, provides a competitive package of wage increases and benefits for rank-and-file employees, including leaves, medical insurance, loyalty incentives, birthday gift, signing bonus and profit sharing, a scheme not common in most companies.

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This year’s CBA negotiations also stood out as the shortest in the company’s CBA history, lasting all of four meetings over two weeks. The two panels also did not resort to preventive mediation by the Department of Labor and Employment, as they did in past, contentious negotiations.

PDI president and CEO Sandy Prieto-Romualdez hailed the atmosphere of mutual trust and respect and the sense of professionalism that made this feat possible.

“Thank you both panels for surprising us,” Romualdez said in her closing remarks. “I want to note that it was a happy shock that you were able to close [the negotiations] in record time because in the past, the feeling [was] that [negotiations] had to be long to feel, like Jerome said, that someone had won.”

PDI chief operating officer Rudyard Arbolado, chair of the management negotiating panel, took pride in the skills the panelists had displayed during the amicable process.

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“Both [panels] were creative, persuasive, pragmatic, data-based, and always cognizant of the Inquirer’s purpose and sustainability,” Arbolado said. “We share the fervent hope of PDIEU that we remain partners in achieving the Inquirer’s mission and vision,” he added.

Romualdez said this year’s CBA showed that both management and union were able to overcome distrust and “hurt feelings” of the past and work together in partnership to sustain the company’s future.

Extraordinary challenges

“It’s not cheap,” she said of the CBA package. “It’s going to cost us a lot, but because of what you showed us in how you negotiated, we’re now able to say that together, we can do it—whatever sacrifices we need to do to help sustain the company’s future. And it’s more important now than at any other time,” she added.

“The challenges we are facing are extraordinary. We had never faced this level of pressure,” Romualdez said. “But we have reached our 33rd year [as a company] and we have it in us to be able to face these challenges.”

Aning said the union was ready to accept the realities facing the Inquirer, and was thankful that the company also accepts the employees’ needs.

“Our CBA, with all its win-win provisions and worthy compromises, is a manifestation of this partnership that has been beneficial to employer, employee and reader,” he said.

Arbolado also thanked the PDI board and shareholders for supporting the benefits under the new and previous CBAs, and the union for being a partner in achieving the paper’s mission.

“That means using each day as an opportunity to collectively seek out ways to improve our journalism and the business model supporting it; find solutions to challenges facing print media, and continue to serve and remain relevant to the Filipino people and the Philippines,” Arbolado said.

Reporter Marlon Ramos served as cochair, while Rodelio Roberto was vice chair and spokesperson of the union panel. Its members were Iris Desvarro, Aljie Lomuntad, Grace Pagulayan, Vanessa Ong, Menelyn Monreal, Alvin Mancilla and Alfonso Licuanan.

Union observers

Serving as union observers were Glenn Mark Velasco, Patrick Earl Alvarez, Regina dela Paz, Elena Caparros, Florianne Camacho, Antonio Jesus Veloira, Richard Marasigan and Olga Pallada.

PDI vice president for human resources and administration Renato Lao served as cochair and lead spokesperson of the management panel, with members Raymund Soberano, Connie Kalagayan, Juliet Javellana, Jose Gil Pineda, Neyla Manzano and Angela Garcia.

Serving as management observers were Adela Mendoza, Mary Ann Perido, Tina Dumlao, Evelyn Bacani and Noli Navarro.

Also in attendance at the signing were PDI management lawyers Roberto Parel and Regino Moreno, and union lawyer Cezar Maravilla Jr. PDI chair Raul Palabrica witnessed the signing.

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