BY ADRIAN P. NEMES III
Sixty employees of the Bacolod City Water District are contemplating legal action against it for terminating them due to job “redundancy”.
Leny Espina, president of the Baciwa Employees’ Union, said yesterday that most of the affected employees are rank and file, who are under plantilla positions.
On Dec. 29, engineer Michael Soliva, general manager of Baciwa, issued Office Order No. 2020-081 informing the affected employees that they have been terminated and will only work until Dec. 31.
Earlier, the employees were given an option to apply for employment to the PrimeWater Infrastructure Inc., Baciwa’s new partner, but they refused to accept the offer. Baciwa also offered the affected employees an early retirement incentive plan but they also did not agree to it.
The employees, through a statement they issued earlier, said that they opt to remain employed by Baciwa, a public entity, as they are already regular workers of the firm under the Civil Service.
They also labeled as “erroneous” the opinion of the Government Corporate Counsel that became the basis of the Baciwa Board to declare their jobs redundant.
They stressed that the grounds cited for their supposed redundancy has no basis in fact and in law and, while they acknowledge that the firm’s members of the Board are policymakers, they do not possess the authority to dictate their employment that is protected under the Civil Service law.
The 60 terminated employees were reportedly barred from entering the Baciwa office yesterday.
But Soliva told the DAILY STAR the employees were not totally banned, they can only allow five of them at a time.
He clarified that the employees can still come in if they want to process their clearances and if they want to turn over their accountabilities.
The Baciwa Union has been vocal in its opposition to the joint venture agreement (JVA) entered into by the utility firm and PrimeWater, claiming that it would lead to privatization, but Soliva said this has nothing to do with their termination.
He explained that when Baciwa and PrimeWater entered into the JVA, the positions of these employees were not included in the organizational chart, hence, these became redundant and caused their termination.
Soliva reiterated that the termination of the employees has legal grounds and the management respects their decision if they want to seek legal action against Baciwa. He added the management is not closing its doors to a possible dialog and reconciliation.*