Mushroom workers union prepares for strike

By ALDWIN QUITASOL
www.nordis.net

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — Workers of a mushroom plantation here are currently on a deadlock status over their 6th Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) prompting them to file a Notice of Strike (NOS) with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Cordillera in August.

The union held its strike vote referendum on September 6 where all members voted YES to strike. This after the negotiations at the National Concillatory and Mediation Board Cordillera failed.

President Rodel Laroza of the Agrofoods Employees Union-National Federation of Labor Unions-Kilusang Mayo Uno (AFEU-NAFLU-KMU), said that they had worked for the company for decades and since they established AFEU, they did not have any major problems with the management until now.

He said that when they presented their proposal for their 6th CBA agreement and management told them that the company is suffering from losses therefore it cannot give them the increase they were asking for.

He said they had research and studied well the bases for their demand for wage increase, and believe their demand for an increase is justified

Laroza also said that in their latest negotiations in July, they met with the management 6 times. The union’s first proposal for a wage increase was P20 per day for five years from 2017 to 2022 but the management answered that they can only give P2.

“Puro hindi naming kayang magdagdag at madami kaming pagkakagastosan ang isinasagot sa amin gaya daw ng pagbili ng bagong sasakyan,” (we are always being told by the management that they cannot afford to give an increase because they have so many expenses like the purchase of a new company vehicle).

He said in their analysis, the alibi of the company is unjust causing the union and the management to be stuck on a CBA deadlock. He said that they have actually lowered their demand for wage increase to P18.

On the second week of July, the union planned to file NOS but the members agreed that they should first file for a preventive mediation. On their first mediation talks, the union presented their computations. Laroza said that when the management was asked to present also its basis for not giving the desired increase during their second dialogue, the representatives of the company only brought out yellow sheets of paper indicating their expenses but did not write down their sales for the past five years, as it was necessary.

According to Laroza, they challenged the management to show their complete financial documents of their expense and sales but they were only told that it was confidential. He said that the management failed to justify its basis for giving only a P2 wage increase. This prompted them to finally file an NOS.

Laroza said that one of the reasons why they need the wage increase is because for the past 5 years, their wage increase was P7.00 per day per year. “Binalewala at binawi din ng kumpanya sa pamamagitan ng kanilang iskema na dinagdagan ang aming rest day ng apat hanggang limang araw bawat manggagawa sa isang buwan at para maging parehas ang produksiyon ay ginawang tatlong katao lang ang gagawa sa ginagawa ng limang katao,” (The company took it back after all through its scheme wherein each workers were given 4-5 days of rest day and to make the production still run as it is, they made three workers do the job of 5 workers in a day).

He said that the effect on the workers includes body pains and sickness that force them to be absent from their jobs. “Kaya tuloy, ang dati naming take home pay sa isang taon na P86,000 ay nagiging P55,000 dahil sa aming absenses,” (So the result is that our usual take home pay of P86,000 a year went down to P55,000 because of our absences) Laroza added.

Laroza said that they do not want to go on strike against the company as they cherished it for decades but they will be forced to do so to fight for their rights. # nordis.net

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