Employees of a stainless steel pump factory in Cabuyao, Laguna assembled a protest camp yesterday morning, calling for regularization, living wages and sufficient benefits.
At around 5:30 in the morning last May 30, contractual workers from the Ebara Pumps Philippines, Inc. built the picket near the factory gate. Ebara Pumps, which was formerly known as Ebara Benguet, Inc., is a factory of stainless steel pumps which traces its roots to Ebara Corporation in Japan.
They followed this with a symposium, or a short program at the picket line by 4 in the afternoon.
The protest camp is the latest in what seems to be a string of dissent among contractual workers in the Southern Tagalog region, following the now-one-year strike in Tanduay Distillers, Inc., and the workers’ strike in Manila Cordage Company and Manco Synthetic, which sparked last May 4.
The workers cried foul mainly on stalled talks between them and the company owners. While the company and the workers have agreed upon 7 Collective Bargaining Agreements in the past, no resolution has still been made after 17 plant-level negotiations and 9 mediated negotiations.
“While we remain to uphold our rights for living and sustainable jobs, the capitalists in Ebara have yet to move out of their lust for sustainable superprofits. (Ebara president Hideyuki) Kuwajima’s treatment to us makes his bargaining in bad faith,” said Remigio Poblete, Union President of the Ebara Benguet Inc. Employees’ Union-OLALIA-KMU (EBIEU-OLALIA-KMU).
Workers have also reported that the company, headed by Mr. Hideyuki Kuwajima, backtracked on agreements and resolutions that were agreed upon before.
This has pushed both regularized and casual workers to call for a strike in defense of their rights for better working conditions, sufficient benefits and living wages; resulting to a majority vote for a strike and an eventual notice of strike, which was filed by EBIEU.
Besides the main issue of major contractual employment in the factory, the laborers also complained over the harsh treatment they constantly faced from company management.
Among various cases of being away without official leave (AWOL), the workers were forced to increase production, as the company cut off waiting time from 15 minutes to ten. The workers also recalled an incident where one of them was dragged by security because of smoking inside the factory premises; an action that “was out of line and uncalled for”, said Poblete.
“The strike will be imminent as long as the capitalists remain stiff on their anti-worker positions,” Poblete added; warning that they “will never back down from any fight which puts the welfare of the workers on the line”. # # #