“The keystone for successful business is cooperation.
Friction retards progress.” – James Cash Penny
The Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) has successfully launched the three-day Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) – Mediation – Conciliation (MedCon) Workshop attended by various cooperatives throughout Region I, held at the Calasiao Cooperative Complex, in Bued, Calasiao, December 11-13, 2023.
The year-end workshop is the culmination of the educational thrust of the government agency to educate its stakeholder cooperatives in conducting effective voluntary conciliation and mediation as an inexpensive dispute resolution mechanism to avoid litigious and expensive suits.
The event was kicked off with the Welcome Remarks by Atty. Frederick Joe N. Robles, the Regional Director of CDA R1, on the importance of conciliation and mediation and equipping cooperatives insofar as resolving conflicts and issues amongst themselves without the need to escalate to the Authority.
Atty. Robles elaborates on his thrust and personal commitment for the need to make the Cooperative Law more responsive to the needs of cooperatives by further fine-tuning with needed amendments especially in the aspect of maintaining objectivity in dispute resolution mechanisms zeroing-in on the process of selecting members of the MedCon Committees that should be elected rather than appointed by the Cooperative’s Board. He assures that he shall advocate and lobby action in Congress for such amendments in order to the benefit of the cooperatives his office serves.
In addition, Atty Robles’ emphasis on the good fortune of participants attending with such conciliation – mediation workshops being very affordable and cost-effective is much welcomed, considering that the usual cost of such types of seminars would normally be quite prohibitive.
The workshop commenced with the Lecture Proper initiated by Mr. Lester A. Panem, the Supervising Labor and Employment Officer of the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), on discussing Labor – Management Cooperation (LMC) especially the types of ADR Mechanism (ADRM) on different bi-partite and tri-partite mechanisms and the complexities of arriving at a consensus. Cooperatives are encouraged to design their own customized LMC Programs while focusing on achieving Consensus decision making which is vital in such bi- and tripartite bodies.
Mr. Panem also initiated several informative activities that show different viewpoints and perspectives exemplifying such perceptions of individual cooperative members (i.e., labor and management) that naturally arise, which spurred the interest and active participation of the workshop-goers. Key message from him is that cooperatives should see such issues, not as a hindrance, but as an opportunity on dealing and settling differences by finding a common ground, working hand-in-hand for the betterment of cooperative relationships by enhancing active communication mechanisms. Then he touchpoints on this as the key principle of Labor Management Cooperation (LMC).
Resolving such issues would make the management more focused on key goals of cooperative rather than being unproductive attending labor management disputes tying up the resources and time of the cooperative. Furthermore, effective resolution of issues by fostering mutual trust, objectivity, mutual respect, teamwork are desirable values for the success of the cooperatives. In addition, he emphasized cooperatives to concretize “co-operation” as a long-term habit and make it a culture.
A productive discussion ensued with feedback from participants whether leadership is an innate trait or a learnable skill with the speaker validating the different perspectives. In conclusion, Mr. Panem discussed pitfalls that would affect the successful implementation of LMC Programs. He also effectively addressed queries from cooperators in a question and answer portion of the programme.
After a spirited “energizer” session dubbed Rabbit-Wall-Arrow in the afternoon, the continuation of the lectures commenced with another NCMB speaker Mr. Vincent L. Remullar, Labor and Employment Officer III, of DOLE, elaborating on his talk entitled, “Grievance Machinery & Voluntary Arbitration: Pathways to Grievance Resolution.” The speaker explained the condition, procedure, and the nature of employee grievance and if unresolved, voluntary arbitration as a last resort to settlement by knowing effective techniques such as adjusting through bargaining and negotiations in order for these grievances for speedy resolution, thereby contributing to industrial peace in the realm of cooperatives. Conciliation – Mediation Process is expounded.
In voluntary arbitration, the parties are empowered to jointly agree on which NCMB appointed arbitrator to impartially adjudicate their case upon acquisition of jurisdiction thru a forwarded submission agreement. From Purely Regulatory to Developmental and Cooperative Problem-Solving Approach with a shifting of mindset. Solving the problem while upholding the rules. Vent – clear misunderstanding, underlying interests and concerns, find common ground, multi-faceted roles of a mediator- conciliator. An open forum followed with many interesting queries coming from the active participation of cooperative members and employees entertained by Mr. Panem and Mr. Remullar.
On the 2nd day of the workshop, a Management of Learning session opens the salvo of activities with a Quiz Game with individual and group prizes given to the winning participants. Afterwards the 2nd Day Speaker, Atty. August Owen Magdato, who serves as the Acting Chief of the Legal Division of the CDA at the Head Office, initiates the discussion on the Fundamentals of Mediation focusing also on the Anatomy and Analysis of Conflict in the morning session. Cooperative data on conflict resolution is important in order to craft effective policies in cooperatives, Atty Magdato pointed out.
After a boisterous “MoneyHayst” game happily participated and enjoyed by the cooperatives; the afternoon workshop ensued with the Atty. Magdato continuing the discussion on the quintessence of the Stages of Mediation, with emphasis on various ethical skills and values for a successful MedCon. These are the proper reframing of questions, providing avenues to concoct the best alternatives to settlement coming from between parties in order to mitigate conflict, and most the especially the establishment of rapport and thinking out-of-the-box which are key concepts that are emphasized in the programme.
In conclusion of the 2nd day, Atty Magdato initiated several sessions of reframing questions in the plenary as well as a preliminary mock mediation session with several participants in order to prepare them for the upcoming assessment that will be done on the 3rd and culminating day of the workshop. He further emphasized the need for the agenda setting for all of the groups in order to become effective MedCon practitioners.
On the last and final day of the workshop, cooperative members are grouped into teams to try their hand on the mock mediation in their respective breakout session where Atty. Owen Magdato and Atty. Leah B. Bangui-Han (Deputy Administrator for Legal Services) assessed their application in the Skills-Based Assessment for the entire day where cooperative members will demonstrate what they have learned in the first two days of lecture workshop.
Atty. Katherine F. Ellorin, the Legal Officer of CDA R1 EO shared that the final sessions are indeed empowering and uplifting seeing the cooperatives in action in this auspicious upskill and capacitating the roster of future effective accredited MedCon practitioners.
Cooperator Nelson of San Carlos City Teacher’s Cooperative thanks the CDA with all the organizers and partners for all the learnings he has understood and will re-echo to his cooperative, as well as the superb venue and service provided by the venue managed by the Calasiao Plant and Related Companies Employees’ Multi-Purpose Cooperative, a multi-awarded Region 1 billionaire cooperative.
In his final remarks, Atty Magdato praised the efforts of all the cooperative participants and assures all of them passing the assessment. On the other hand, Atty. Banagui-Han in her message also imparted that she hopes that all the participants to not merely just acquire the tools and mindset of a win-win for MedCon, but also the heart of cooperation to ensure harmony in the cooperative sphere which is of the main thrust and essence of mediation and conciliation and what it is all about.
The Awarding of Certificates of Completion ensued to culminate the event.
Victor Francis Divino O. Fernandez – CLAP Extern
L-NU College of Law, Dagupan City
Atty. Katherine Ellorin
Head-Legal Section, CDA Region 1 EO