By ALDWIN QUITASOL
“No cause for action arises from bare promise” — Legal Maxim
The Lepanto mine workers are again facing a blank wall as the company promises to pay its debt. As usual, the company employs all means to convince the workers not to go on a strike and settle the issue the way they (company) like. This, I view, is a scheme to lure the workers to give up their fight for just compensation for the worked they already rendered – yet unpaid, and their call to restore their retrenched colleagues.
For years, the workers’ right to their hard earned wages have been violated by the company through delayed payment of their wages. Helpful in raising the workers issues were the objective reporting by some regional and national newspapers which religiously put in their headlines the news of non-payment of wages, non-remittance of the workers’ SSS and Pag-ibig premiums by the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMC). Some news reportage however are biased to the mining company where they parrot the LCMC line that the workers are being paid squarely and fairly. If only they had an actual encounter with the workers and their families, and see with their own eyes the workers’ real situation.
The members of the security and rank-and-file unions in Lepanto mines filed Notices of Strike (NOS) against the company for unfair labor practices and union busting. The workers met with the management both in the mine site in Mankayan and in their main office in Makati City to tackle the issues. But the workers’ issues remain unsettled.
It can be recalled that the workers staged a three month-strike in 2005 for a fair Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and the recognition of their right to self-organization. While many of them sacrificed, the workers under the Lepanto Employees Union (LEU) learned what collective unity meant for their collective interest amidst company harassment coupled with assault from the state forces. In their struggle for recognition, they stood firm.
Anytime, the workers decided to go on strike, determined as one. They face the same situation likened to that in 2003. They are standing firm to fight not only for themselves but for their fellow workers, particulalry the officers who were retrenched by the company.
Workers believe a strike is inevitable now. Management is again giving promises but such promises actually address only a portion of the workers demands but failed to address the very reason on why they filed an NOS. According to the union, the management representatives during one of their conciliation meetings said the recall of the retrenched union officers is up to the top management based in Makati City. The union members who are among those retrenched will be recalled based on the result of the company’s review on their performances.
But the union’s position is no one should be removed. They knew that once one of their colleagues will losehis job, they and their family will go hungry. The company claims retrenchment of workers is due to their inefficiency. But why remove workers even cited by the company as “model employees” during its 76th anniversary celebration!
The Lepanto workers are wise enough to realize the truth as to the company’s claim that they are losing heavily and why it hires contractual workers. The workers are not just resorting to strike, they are fighting for their right to live.# nordis.net