A magnet for controversy

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By Sandy Gil

Sunday Dunes

Sunday, August 10, 2014


LAST February, I wrote of two very significant changes in my life. First, I ended six years of heading one of the units of the company I work for by gloriously returning to writing a regular Sunday column for Sun.Star Davao. And second, I literally gushed with excitement about having been allowed to avail a one-year leave of absence with full salary, a privilege granted by the company to qualified senior employees like myself.

Consequently, I have not been reporting for work at the office. Such a wonderful blessing for this year!

-oOo-

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However, the universe and gods have, as always, decided to balance such fortune with strange occurrences. It sometimes seems to me that I somehow, without much effort, attract controversy - particularly in my place of work - even when I am totally and absolutely out of sight.

-oOo-

There appears to be two employees - both men - who are stirring up a cauldron of controversies about non-existent problems. One of them had written a letter of complaint to management, basically accusing some colleagues, including myself, of discrimination against other employees. Not unexpected, he furnished copies of his complaint only to management, and not to those he insinuated were responsible for such discrimination. As a result, management has formed fact-finding committees to investigate the truthfulness of his allegations.

-oOo-

So one might ask, what were these purported acts of discrimination? I don't have a copy of the letter, so I have only been told about its contents. Well, one appears to involve my solitary vote some three or more years ago, as then unit head, not to recommend an employee under the unit I headed permanent status in the company. Simply put, my negative vote was a vote of conscience. However, since I was the only one who had the temerity to deny recommendation of permanent status to this employee, my vote was inevitably overturned by management - and the employee was eventually granted permanent status, which of course I accepted as part of the work. You win some and you lose some. So what's the buzz?

I wonder if this complaining employee truly understands the difference between acts of discrimination and of independent thinking.

In the past few years, this permanent employee has apparently been assigned only one specific task by his direct supervisor (not me). And I am being blamed for that too, even though supervisors, and not unit heads, are the ones authorized to assign work load. In a futile attempt to make life easy for my colleagues, I was even naive enough to request this complaining employee to assist in encouraging the permanent employee to "re-invent" himself so that his supervisor can assign him other tasks.

Sigh. I am no longer unit head, and I am on official leave of absence. This is not my problem.

-oOo-

The other act of discrimination I have been suspected of by this complaining employee has to do with the non-extension of another employee's period to apply for permanent status. In the first place, the employee in question never applied for permanent status nor requested for an extension of such, so I had nothing to recommend. In the end, since no documents regarding her permanent status were ever submitted to my office, there was nothing to act upon. I had no choice but to personally serve her a ninety-day notice (as provided by the rules), informing her that she may choose to invoke her right to seek extension within those ninety days - which she did on the afternoon of the 89th day - and not to the unit I headed. She went directly to management.

It must have been lost to this complaining employee's mind that the unit head's job is to merely chair the unit's recommendatory committee. As then unit head, I had no authority to make decisions on matters of permanent status by myself - although each committee member has the right not to concur with the majority decision, as in all democratic processes. And to top it all, both committee and/or committee member's recommendations are subject to review by management.

-oOo-

I expect the fact-finding committees formed by management to soon call upon me for interview. I look forward to these interviews with eagerness and enthusiasm! But in all honesty, I continue in wonderment why these two grown men seem to be out to destroy... themselves? Or maybe... they simply miss me?

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on August 10, 2014.

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