Thousands of garment workers from Carina Apparel, Inc. at the Laguna International Industrial Park (LIIP) in Biñan, Laguna lost their jobs due to the factory’s sudden closure. In the midst of management-induced leave, union members from Carina received informal messages regarding ‘total closure’ and definite stoppage of operations.
A number of 3,600 workers, 80% of which is composed of women, currently face job loss without pay. The management of Carina Apparel, Inc. decided to ‘cease operations and dissolve the corporation effective on March 27, 2014, but as early as February 21, this large number of workers were advised about the complete cease of functions. Carina’s Senior Operations Manager, Anthony Wong, sent a letter to the Department of Labor and Employment stating that the lack of Carina Apparel Inc. Labor Union – Independent (CAILU) and its members’ cooperation to increase the amount of production resulted to serious business losses.
“After more than a decade of hardwork that the workers spent in the factory, this is all we’ll ever get. The capitalist accuses the workers for this, but in reality, it’s their greed for money and power that lead to the company’s closure and us losing our jobs,” says Gina Cedron, a worker from Carina, coordinator of Garments and Textile Labor Alliance (GATELA), spokesperson of Kilusan ng Manggagawang Kababaihan – Timog Katagalugan (KMK-TK, Movement of Women Workers – Southern Tagalog), and current Chairperson of GABRIELA – Southern Tagalog.
According to Wong’s letter to DoLE, the closure arose from ‘a consistently high rate of employee absenteeism and [the workers’] unwillingness to embrace greater flexibility in the workplace.’
“There never was a problem on absenteeism. If there are cases of absences, these only depended on the actual need in production force. There’s always a higher rate in attendance than of absence. And in fact, the amount of workforce needed, in spite of these minimal absences, are being coped with the hiring of more than 500 contractual workers to out-reach the quota.” Cedron adds, “Whatever financial losses they were claiming to is definitely a big lie. We produce at least 33,600 pieces of lingerie everyday which amounts to millions of dollars of profit for the capitalist, wherein we only receive insignificant compensation for.”
Carina Apparel Inc. manufactures high-end lingerie for luxurious brands like Marks & Spencer, Calvin Klein, Gap, Forever 21, Victoria’s Secret, Uniqlo, and Toray among others. A Victoria’s Secret lingerie, for example, costs $18-$50 apiece, while a Uniqlo lingerie overalls is being sold in the Philippines for P36,000 per set – these pricey products literally show a huge profit for the capitalist behind Carina. By computation, Carina earns more than P81,900,000 a day. However, the workers – who have been with them for as long as 14 years ever since the establishment of the company – receive a flunked sum of P397 daily.
Forced Leave, Stalled Collective Bargaining Negotiations
The Collective Bargaining Agreement re-negotiations, between CAILU and the management, is set to take effect on the 15th of this month. But last February 14, the 3,600 workers were obliged to have a forced leave in lieu with, according to the capitalist, the deficiency of raw materials.
As said by the management, the materials will be delivered on the 20th, only then could they get back to work. Also, 70% of their daily wage will be compensated within this period, except none of these promised work comeback and paid ‘holiday’ actually happened.
The impending CBA proposal includes (a) wage increase which expanses to additional P60 on the fourth year and another P60 on the fifth, (b) hospitalization where the company shoulders 100% expenses on the Maxicare health maintenance for both the principal holder and its dependent, and (c) post-employment benefits that covers retirement, resignation, retrenchment, and company closure.
Since the founding of CAILU in 2004, CBA negotiations are regularly practiced. But because of the capitalist’s endless desire to magnify their profits, the workers have been continuously deprived of substantial wage increase which is why their income remains stuck at most in P397 a day, 30% of which as payment for over-times, no paid breaks, and insufficient medical and other basic service allowances.
The Southern Tagalog trade union sector has been the testing ground for various anti-worker policies such as union busting, two-tiered wage system, contractualization, labor flexibilization schemes, and many others.
In line with this, Wenecito Urgel, Secretary General of PAMANTIK-KMU, shared that, “The illegal closure of Carina Apparel, Inc. is blatantly a form of union busting, since CAILU is the sole standing garments union in the region. Capitalists traditionally use ‘financial losses’ as a scapegoat from bargaining with their workers. This exactly became the scenario between PhilSteel Corp. and PWU-OLALIA-KMU in 2012.”
In 2011, Carina workers were likewise put on forced leave from January to May 2011 – putting also on-hold then ongoing CBA negotiations. Contrary to this, the preceding forced leave this year lead to total closure and non-payment of workers. The workers manifested that Carina still has a month-worth of unpaid wages from them plus the 70% compensation for the said forced leave.
Urgel added, “Carina is one of the few remaining large garment factories in the Philippines. Most garments factories chose to move their operations from the Philippines to other Asian countries such as Cambodia, Bangladesh, and India for lower labor costs. Cheaper production costs mean bigger profit for the capitalists.”
PAMANTIK-KMU highly believes that the illegal closure of the Carina Apparel Inc. has no other motive than to turn their back from negotiations, abolish the union, and further save for higher profits and personal gains. Under a capitalist system, after bagging millions and billions of money from the blood and sweat of the workers, their so-called loss and bankruptcy arise from their thirst to beat their current net worth. The capitalists pass the burden and agony of consistent losses and the crisis of over-production to the ever-hampered ranks of workers.
“Now more than ever, is the necessity for a tight and militant solidarity and struggle for humane wage, jobs, and rights, and justice for the 3,600 workers in Carina.” Urgel ended.###
Condemn the Illegal Closure of Carina Apparel Inc.!
Reinstate the Workers!
Respect Carina Workers’ Right to Bargain!