By ALMA B. SINUMLAG
BAGUIO CITY — Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) criticizes the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company’s (LCMC) plan to terminate 300 more workers amid the on going Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) negotiations.
Vicente Dilem of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) – Cordillera and former officer of the Lepanto Employees Union (LEU) said LCMC continues to trample on the rights of its mine workers. He disclosed this during the re convening of the Save the Abra River Movement (STARM) here on August 26.
He said the negotiations for their 25th Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is on going. Despite this, the mine company he said, plans to terminate more than 300 regular employees next month.“This is in bad faith, a discrimination against the workers and non-recognition of their rights as partners in production.
Dilem said the workers’ union will again face management August 27 in their bid to negotiate the schedule of wage increases under the CBA. He feels however that Lepanto shall take the hard stance of refusing the union’s bid for a P35–P40–P40 per year increase for three years. The union originally proposed a P55–P60– P60.
In the union’s computation of what they call the rate of exploitation, the company is seen by the union to be more than able to afford this amount for the worker’s wages. The company proposed a P0–P19–P19.
Dilem recalled that last year, the company terminated 256 regular employees while their CBA negotiations was ongoing. “Inbaga ti unyon nga nu adda plano da nga ag-terminate, ibaga da nga nasapa,” (The union told the company that if they are planning to terminate, they should inform them earlier) he said. But the mine firm he said told the union that they do not plan to terminate anybody. The union then trusted them however, the company turned its back and in September last year they retrenched regular employees who were mostly members of the union.
Moreover, May this year, right after the labor day commemoration, 452 employees were again retrenched. This has wiped out all the members of the Lepanto Security Force Union (LSFU) which is also a member of NAFLU – KMU.
LCMC, he said, is always justifying these by saying that they have low production output while the labor force is big. However, Dilem said they even checked their financial statement and found that the company is earning billions. “Haan nga agpayso nga maluglugi ti Lepanto,” he iterated. Their statement he added contradicts their actions besides they are continouosly hiring contractual employees. From a former total of 1,800 regular employees, the firm now has only 632 regular workers.
They have used this retrenchment action to dissipate the union and weaken the workers capacity to negotiate or bargain for fair wages and better working conditions. With these injustices committed by the mine firm and the continued insincerety in the negotiations, the workers and their immediate community are further pushed to the edge.
He fears an eminent deadlock in the negotiations. The refusal of the company to give support to the already impoverished workers lobby for just wages is without conscience and the workers, the employees will be pushed to the defensive.
In 2003 when Dilem was still officer of the LEU, they staged a month long strike because of unfair labor practices. He cited that they were exposed to unsafe working conditions underground. Also, they complained of early time-in without pay and the issue of contractualization. The workers he said won the strike.
Moreover, in 2005, while their CBA negotiotion was on going, the firm retrenched members of LEU that prompted them to stage another strike that lasted for three months. However, the firm he said asked for the help of the Philippine Army to harrass the piket line. Worst he said, the military attacked the strike during midnight. Leaders of the strike were even jailed.
They (LEU officers) he recounted, agreed to accept termination so that 240 members will be reinstated. “Ngem awan met lang gayam serbi na nga nagsakripisyo kami ta tuluy-tuloy da met nga inikkat dagiti members ti unyon,” (But our sacrifice came to naught as they continued retrenching the union members) he further added.
He then appealed to the audience to support the workers union and their community. Aside from the destruction of the environment caused by the company wastes, he said, its laborers have long been victims of unfair labor practices because of LCMC’s greed for profit. # nordis.net