January 15, 2009
Complaining of employer bad faith and delaying tactics in implementing the agreed work rotation scheme, workers of the Giardini del Sole, one of the country’s biggest furniture exporting companies, revived their protest today amidst the Sinulog festivities. The worker’s representative to the joint evaluation team walked out of the meeting yesterday after management did not even recommend a single name of an employee it is accepting for job rotation thus precipitating today’s renewed action at the factory gates.
“We ask the understanding of our fellow Cebuanos for we were forced by circumstances to hold our protests during Sinulog. But workers cannot be festive when we are jobless and our families are hungry,” appealed Primitivo Ginoo, Jr., president of the Nagkahiusang Puwersa nga Mamumuo sa Giardini.
About a hundred Giardini workers picketed the factory gates starting at 8 a.m. today as the union formally filed for a notice of strike. By lunch break, scores of workers from nearby establishments like Prince Warehouse, Cosonsa, Presidents Marine and displaced workers of Neostone joined them in solidarity. From 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., more workers from Keppel Shipyard, General Milling and Lami Foods arrived to support the mass action.
“Today’s protest is just a new beginning of the fight. Tomorrow, there will be a bigger rally. And the struggle will escalate next week until management delivers is part of the agreement,” explained Eulito Fin, Jr., vice president of Giardini union. The protesters want management to comply with the agreement to rotate work among as many workers as possible. Yesterday was the joint evaluation team’s second meeting and while some 60 workers continue production, none of the other 250 Giardini workers has been allowed to work despite last week’s agreement on job rotation.
Greg Janginon, chairperson of Partido ng Manggagawa-Cebu and president of the Prince Warehouse union, stated that “The fight of the Giardini workers is the fight of all Cebuano workers. Their struggle highlights the imperative of a bailout package for workers affected by the global crisis. Government, both national and local, must be proactive in assisting the thousands who have been displaced due to the crisis.”
“Government must reopen the factories that have shutdown in the past months and years, and keep those presently affected from closing shop. The state must confiscate the factories if necessary, infuse capital into production and assist workers in marketing. Or else it faces the prospects of deepening unrest as unemployment swells,” argued Desiderio Lastimoso, president of the Workers Organization of Lami Foods.
The bailout package for workers being pushed by the Partido ng Manggagawa 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.