Some 138 janitors fired by the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman campus are protesting their retrenchment. Some of them have worked in UP for as long as 16 years.
BY EMILY VITAL
Those who used to clean up the mess are now protesting how they were “swept out” of their jobs.
Some 138 janitors retrenched by the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, Quezon City held a picket in front of Quezon Hall. They have been retrenched since July 31 and are demanding that they be rehired.
In an interview, Nemuel Sapungan, a member of the UP Janitorial Services Association, said that they were terminated due to the terms of reference between the UP administration and a new agency.
Sapungan who has worked for almost 10 years at UP said they are not considered directly hired by the UP administration. “Pinakamatagal dito, 16 years na sa serbisyo.” (There are those who have worked here for 16 years.)
“Dati, agency lang ang pinapalitan. Kapag may rekomendasyon, nire-retain nila,” (Before, only the agency was replaced. If you were recommended, you will be retained by the administration.) he said.
Sapungan added that the UP administration started to retrench workers gradually. Before, 50 percent of the janitors were absorbed and the other 50 percent were relieved. He said their co-workers were hired on a three-month contract by the agency and that an agency fee worth P2,500 was collected from every “newly-hired” worker.
Sapungan said the janitors assigned to the north side of UP were receiving below minimum wage. “Wala silang pay slip at P240 lang ang sahod.” (They don’t get pay slip and their daily wage is only P240 or $4.68, based on an exchange rate of P51.25 per US dollar.)
Sapungan said that the low budget allotted for UP has affected them. “May budget cut, may retrenchment din. ‘Yung iba, pinapasweldo na lang mula sa thrust fund ng kolehiyo.” (If there is a budget cut, retrenchment occurs. Some of us are being paid out of the thrust fund of a college or department.)
Quoting a study by All-UP Workers Union, Sapungan said the UP administration could save as much as P13 million ($253,658.54) a year from direct hiring of janitors.
As of press time, the association is seeking a dialogue with the UP administration. They demand that all of them be absorbed by the new agency. Bulatlat