MANILA, Philippines – Several garment and electronics factory workers raised their concern over the temporary closure of a company in the Cavite Export Processing Zone (CEPZ), calling it a form of “union busting.”
Over a dozen of workers linked to labor groups Partido Mangaggawa, Piglas-Sentro and Katipunan ng Manggagawang Pilipino, marched inside CEPZ in Rosario, Cavite on Monday, October 16.
They called on the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) to look into the company shutdowns which happened there recently.
“These unfair labor practices by foreign capitalists are engendering workers discontent and labor disputes. Workers are unionizing to improve their working conditions but are being met by extreme interference from capitalists unwilling to share the fruits of production,” PM national chairperson Rene Magtubo said in a statement.
The latest closure was made by garments factory Sein Together Phils, Inc., which affected almost 400 workers. Sein Together will re-open on October 23.
PM organizer Dennis Sequina, also a union member of Sein Together, said the factory ceased to operate despite the volume of orders. The company instead tapped subcontractors and sister companies to process the products said Sequina.
Sequina said the shutdown happened last September, weeks after the formation of the union.
“The target of the management is to abolish the union. Union leaders were the first to get the separation pay offer. But they did not concede,” Sequina said in Filipino.
The protesting workers likened the Sein Together case with what happened to the shutdown of Faremo International Inc., last year just 4 months after they signed a collective bargaining agreement with the newly-formed union. Faremo was the biggest garments factory in the economic zone at the time.
Magtubo also cited other cases such as the closure of electronics supplier Seung Yuen Technology Industries Corp in April last year after the establishment of a union.
“The closing a factory to bust the union and reopening under a new name is also practiced in the Mactan Cebu ecozone as can be gleaned from the very recent case of electronics factory Cebu Nisico Corp,” Magtubo also said.
“Before negotiations with the union could begin, it shutdown last August, offered separation to almost 200 workers and then reopened after just two weeks with a new name,” he added.
Factory workers in CEPZ are usually contractual workers hired through 3rd party agencies. Organizing themselves into a union allows them to demand for better wages and benefits. – Rappler.com