Labor union sues Cebu garment firm for mass layoffs

Union workers from garment company First Glory, located at the Mactan Economic Zone, will sue the company instead of going on strike, the labor union's president told Rappler on Tuesday, February 2.

“The union is now preparing to file a case at the National Labor Relations Commission and with the assistance of Partido Manggagawa (Labor Party), we are confident of winning our complaint for illegal dismissal and union busting,” said Cristito Pangan, president of the First Glory labor union.

The remaining 76 union workers of the factory were planning to strike on behalf of 300 other workers who were laid off on November 2020. That round of layoffs included the union president and some union officers.

Aside from the strike, those who had already been laid off had originally planned to join the strikers in protest outside the factory, according to Pangan.

The decision not to strike was formalized on Friday, January 29. It came after a series of meetings mediated by Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Ahong Chan.

Lapu-Lapu City is where the factory is located.

Other parties who helped broker the agreement include Department of Labor and Employment-National Conciliation and Mediation Board (DOLE-NCMB 7), the Philippine Economic Zone Authoirty (PEZA), the Lapu Lapu City Attorney's Office and Public Employment Service Office (PESO). 

The strike would have been the second by the union workers after the one in November last year. That protest was dispersed by the police and 5 of the labor organizers were arrested then for allegedly violating quarantine protocols.

First Glory manufactures clothes for US retail brand J. Crew. Rappler reached out to the company for a statement on the issue but has yet to receive any.

Lapu-Lapu City PESO Manager Trabaho Kim Francisco believes that the compromise agreement was a victory for everyone and hopes to maintain industrial peace in the industries or establishments of Lapu-Lapu.

Kung dunay kasungian angayan nga maminaw ug magsinabtanay. Dapat ipatigbabaw ang fairness sa tanang lakang nga himoon sa management og ingun man sa labor union,” said Francisco 

(If there is a disagreement we ought to listen and understand. It is important to uphold fairness in all steps taken by the management and the labor union.)

So far, over 5,000 workers employed in manufacturing companies located on Mactan Island's economic zones have been laid off since the pandemic began. –