After Tanduay Distillers, another company in Cabuyao illegally terminates workers; terminated workers join anti-APEC protest

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Cabuyao City, Laguna – Workers at Karzai Corporation, located at Brgy. Sala, Cabuyao City, Laguna, have been on picket since November 12 when they were not allowed entry to the company premises to work.

Ilaw, Gabay at Pag-asa ng Manggagawa sa Karzai (IGPAK), a DoLE registered and recognized union, decided to build their picket line because the company apparently is not serious about the regularization of its workers.

“After a series of suspensions, we formed our union so we can have an organization that will protect and fight for our rights. We were able to register it successfully and, through continuous negotiations with the management, have been gaining small victories for the workers. Recently, however, the company has issued another series of suspensions and now, members or our union are not allowed to enter the gate to work,” said IGPAK President Jonathan Bulusan.

At around 1:00AM of November 13, 30 workers, also union members, were instructed to go home because one transformer exploded. They were all given allowance for transportation. By 7:00AM, the security guard, Arnel Catalan, apprehended the morning shift workers who are about to enter the gate and were told that there is no work schedule. However, there were several irregularities that the workers noticed.

“We noticed that only members of the union were not allowed to work while regular and agency hired workers were admitted at the gate. There are also additional security guards and there are now two Officers-In-Charge, both armed with shotguns. The gates and walls look like a garrison now, because of the installed barrier and excavation in front of the gate and ready firefighter hoses,” Bulusan stated.

There was also reinforcement – all of them capable of work – at the National Workers Brotherhood’s (NWB) picket line. The reinforcements were promised to replace the unionized workers. NWB has been known to the workers to be a company union that tries to divide the unity of the workers.

Since the registration of the union and amidst continuous negotiations, the management, through its HR Department, has also been continuously trying to bribe the organized workers. Bong Perez, the plant manager, has been trying to offer unionized workers ‘financial assistance’ in exchange of their resignation. At around 9:30AM, Perez called Bulusan informing them that the company sought the service of Meralco to inspect the transformers and that he will provide a report of the investigation later in the day. By 11:00AM, Perez called again and declared that their contract will be ended to prevent the possible occurrence of incidents similar to transformer explosion.

Around 4:00PM, Liezel Divera, accompanied by Arnel Catalan and one other Security OIC, stepped out of the gate to ask Bulusan and other IGPAK members to receive the memorandum regarding their temporary termination, which involves 35 workers.

“What has been happening is clearly a syndicated efforts of the management and the yellow union to break the genuine, militant and pro-worker union. Like what happened in Tanduay, there are decisions that favor the workers based on the Labor Code and Philippine Constitution sections that uphold our rights. In our fight for our right to regular employment, the Karzai Corporation is apparently hell-bent on getting rid of our union so they won’t be pressured to regularize workers,” Bulusan further stated.

The IGPAK members and supporters have been on picket for four days now. They are gearing for the conduct of an official strike to strongly send their message that they won’t give in to the unjust moves and unfair practices of the management.

“We will continue to fight for our regular employment. We see and understand how contractualization destroy’s people’s lives and how it makes every worker’s life degraded and inhumane. We are preparing for a series of propaganda and protest actions before the official declaration of strike. We are calling on workers from other companies to support our fight for regularization and fight against the pro-capitalist and anti-worker contractualization scheme,” Bulusan ended.

The workers are also joining the massive anti-APEC protest because they learned that APEC dictates neo-liberal policies such as contractualization. ###

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