Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cebu workers call for jobs summit, push for bailout for labor

Press Statement
January 22, 2009

In reaction to the statement by the Cebu Furniture Industries Foundation Inc. (CFIF) on massive job losses, the Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) called for a tripartite summit in Cebu to resolve the employment crisis. “In the jobs summit, labor will push for a bailout package for workers. The workers are not responsible for this global crisis and thus they should be made to bear the burden of the economic slowdown,” said PM-Cebu spokesperson Dennis Derige.

Meanwhile the labor dispute at the Giardini del Sole, one of the biggest furniture exporting firms in the country, escalated today with the union’s definitive filing of a notice of strike this morning at the NCMB Region VII office. The union will then hold a strike vote tomorrow in compliance with the 24 hour period required by law.

The workers of Giardini del Sole are questioning the timing of the CFIF declaration. Primitivo Ginoo, Jr. president of the Nagkahiusang Puwersa nga Mamumuo sa Giardini (NPMG) averred that “The furniture industry was curiously silent about the hemorrhage of jobs when we got into a debate with the Labor Department about the number of retrenched and rotated workers a few weeks ago. But now that we are on the threshold of a strike because of management’s intransigence in implementing the agreement to rotate work among as many workers as possible, they come to the rescue of Giardini’s owner by intimidating and threatening workers with the specter of massive joblessness.”

“We might believe in the good intentions of the CFIF if they censure Mr. Bosch since he did not follow their group’s proposal for owners to communicate with their workers about the real state of the company. Mr. Bosch surprised Giardini’s workers with a temporary shutdown last January 5 without due notice and then he is engaging in delaying tactics during meetings of the joint evaluation team for job rotation,” asserted Eulito Fin, Jr., vice president of NPMG.

The protest at the factory gates of Giardini del Sole continues as talks have broken down over management’s refusal to implement the work rotation scheme agreed upon two weeks ago at the NCMB. “The looming strike at Giardini is the herald of the labor unrest that will ensue from the loss of jobs and pay by workers. Government must heed the call for a bailout and stimulus for workers not capitalists,” insisted Derige.

The bailout package for workers being pushed by the PM includes a subsidy for displaced workers, tax refund for workers as an economic stimulus, and a reformed and expanded state employment program for the millions of unemployed Filipinos. “No retreat on labor standards, no surrender on workers rights,” declared Ginoo in reference to a possible call by management and government during a jobs summit for workers to sacrifice in the midst of the crisis.

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