In an apparent show of solidarity among casual workers in the Southern Tagalog region, contractual workers from two different factories both celebrated the first month since “taking the struggle to a higher level”; albeit in different degrees.
By 1 in the afternoon, laborers from Manco Synthetic, Inc., (MSI) and Manila Cordage Company (MCC) held a program inside the factory premises, as their strike continues after a month. At three in the afternoon, workers – both regular and contractual – from Ebara Pumps Philippines held a protest at their picket situated outside the steel pump factory.
The three labor unions have had its share of gripes against low wages and lack or absence of benefits. However, both are bound by the spectre of contractual employment, which is widely-known as a temporary and precarious work conditions.
“The strike persists even with insinuations of violence against us,” said Brando Ebas, union president of MSI Employees’ Union-OLALIA-KMU (MSIEU-OLALIA-KMU).
He pertained to the recent threats of dispersal by the company, when 40 men from a security agency went near the factory grounds in attempts to harass the workers.
While the threat subsided, Ebas said that they will be waiting for more provocations such as the incident, as negotiations between the unions and company management have stalled.
Meanwhile, workers in Ebara Pumps (formerly known Ebara Benguet) marked the first month since they held a referendum for a strike – which resulted to an affirmative majority decision.
Besides massive contractual employment in the factory, they also hit the company for its “insincerity” in offering higher wages for the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) negotiations, which has also stalled after 17 negotiations and 9 more under the facilitation of the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB).
Moreover, they complained about harsh treatment from managers, including a case which involved a worker being booted out the factory for smoking.
“The current situation of our region’s workers, as we have experienced in our factories, have got to stop. Company owners must uphold the rule of law and the demands of its workers – the prime source of their wealth,” said Remigio Poblete, union president of Ebara Benguet Inc. Employees Union-OLALIA-KMU (EBIEU-OLALIA-KMU).
“The current workers’ protests in the Southern Tagalog region is only part of more protests, as we will no more fall silent on our demands for living wages and favorable working conditions,” he ended. # # #