By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — In efforts to convince the workers to withdraw their Notice of Strike (NOS) representatives of the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMCo) promised to pay the workers their unpaid wages by end November.
In the second conciliation meeting with the Lepanto Employees Union-National Federation of Labor Unions-Kilusang Mayo Uno (LEU-NAFLU-KMU) and the Lepanto Security Force Union (LSFU)-NAFLU-KMU on November 23, LCMCo representatives told workers the management will pay its backlog of around P44 million unpaid wages from September to November of this year to the workers including the employees’ vacation, sick and rest leaves amounting to around P4 million.
LEU-NAFLU-KMU President Manuel Binhaon said they still have to see the company fulfill its promise. “Aguray a ta tungpalen da pay,” (We will wait for the company to fulfill its promise) said Binhaon. He added that the company assured them that it will also pay the P12.5 million loan payments to the local cooperatives and savings agencies.
Binhaon further said the company agreed to discuss with the top management the recall of the retrenched union officers. “Kitan kano ti kumpanya dagidiay union members nga adda good standing na tapno isubli da,” (the company said it will review the standing of union members and reinstall those with good standing) said Binhaon.
The said meeting was scheduled after the parties failed to arrive at an agreement in the first conciliation meeting on November 17. Both meetings were held at the office of the National Conciliation and Mediation Board of the Department of Labor and Employment – Cordillera Administrative Region (NCMB-CAR).
In the first conciliation meeting, the unions demanded the company to recall its retrenchment order. LSFU President Pablito Sicdoy said that the company representatives during that meeting insisted that the retrenchment is legal.
Earlier reports show that the LEU and LSFU filed NOS against LCMCo for unfair labor practices (ULP) and union busting at the NCMB-CAR, on November 12. The workers’ unions cited non-payment of wages and benefits under ULP which they said are also in violation of their Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the company. The two unions in their NOS also contested the retrenchment of 140 workers, 123 of whom are union officers and members, which they labeled as union busting.
It will be recalled that the mining company issued a notice that it will remove 140 workers on October 15 due to work inefficiency. Among them are a management staff, four section heads, 10 supervisory-level officers, seven union officers and 116 rank-and-file employees.
The two unions questioned LCMCo claims of work inefficiency as the company was at the same time saying that the skills of the workers retrenched cannot be replaced.
KMU Regional Coordinator Vicente Dilem said the management has been issuing contradicting statements. He pointed out that one of the retrenched workers is even a “Model Employee” awardee of the LCMC during its 76th anniversary last September.
Dilem was among the LEU-NAFLU-KMU officers removed after leading the LCMCo workers’2005 strike.
A third conciliation meeting is set on December 7. The unions said their decision to conduct a Strike-Vote-Referendum (SVR) will depend on the result of the third conciliation meeting. In a SVR, the general membership will vote whether to go on a strike or not.
Binhaon said they do not like to go on strike, but they will resort to this measure should the company continue to violate their labor rights. # nordis.net