September 18, 2011 in Cordillera
By ALDWIN QUITASOL
MANKAYAN, Benguet — Frustrated by management’s refusal of their proposed Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) wage increase, union members and members of their families have no reason to celebrate the diamond anniversary of the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMCo).
Lepanto Employees’ Union-National Federation of Labor Unions-Kilusang Mayo Uno (LEU-Naflu-KMU) President Manuel Binhaon Jr. said that it is very awkward for them to be celebrating the anniversary of the company that refuses to recognize and address the need to upgrade their workers wages and their rights to better working conditions. He said that their action is not aimed to embarrass the company at all.
“Our demands are legitimate and the company can afford it and the workers will rightfully push for what they are asking for,” he expressed.
On September 9, the union filed a Notice of Strike (NOS) before the National Conciliation and Mediation Board of the Department of Labor and Employment-Cordillera Administrative Region (NCMB-DOLE-CAR) barely two weeks after their CBA negotiations reached to a deadlock.
In their conciliation meeting on September 12 with management representatives at the NCMB office, Binhaon said that the company refuses to give in to their CBA demands and insisted on the company offer of a 0-19-19 wage increase for three years respectively. LEU is asking for a 35-40-40 wage increase for each year of a three year CBA term.
“Kasla nagrigat ngay nga adda ka idiay nga makiragragsak ngem panpanunutem nga kasla saan met a maikankano diay dawdawatem lang met a para kenka a nagtrabaho nga usto tapno makaipastrek ti ganansiya para iti kompanya” (It is hard to imagine celebrating with them while knowing that we who worked hard to bring in the profits to the company, are just asking for what is due us in wages are not being heard), Binhaon lamented.
As part of the company’s anniversary celebrations every year, the company spear heads a parade and programs where its workers and their families will participate.
According to Junita Farrong, an officer of the Tignayan dagiti Babbai iti Minasan a Lepanto (Women’s movement in Lepanto Mines or TBML), an organization of Lepanto workers’ wives, it is a practice that the workers, their wives and their children partake in various programs of the celebrations to grace the event and impress the visitors much more the investors to show off a harmonious atmosphere inside the mine company.
The parade this year, Farrong said, is on September 20. She said that they will encourage other families not to join the activity and instead join with the union in pushing for the CBA demands. She made it clear that they will not force those who want to watch the celebrations not to go. Instead, she added that they will campaign among the people of Mankayan for their support to the workers’ ongoing struggle for just wages and better living conditions.
LCMC was established as a mining company and started its operations in the municipality of Mankayan in 1936. Its main office is in Makati City.
Farrong said that the company grew to its its current status as one of the world’s biggest producer of gold because of the mine workers’ hard labor. She added that it is the bonebreaking diggings in the undergound by the miners and not the management who made the company richer by the billions.
“Adu ti minero nga nangi-sakripisyo iti salun-at da ken biag da tapno lang agtuloy-tuloy ti prodksiyon ngem aginngana itatta ket kasla da pay nga aglimlimos a mangdaw-dawat ti karbengan da” (Many miners sacrificed their health and their lives just to run the production but until now, they are just like beggars asking for the recognition of their rights), Farrong said. She added that with the non-recognition of the company of labor rights, their families suffer economic crisis as well as degrading dignity because of debts. # nordis.net