Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Timeline of the labor dispute at Giardini del Sole

November 17, 2008: Primitivo Ginoo (union president), Charlie Bantiles (treasurer) and Esmeralda Surban (secretary) are permanently dismissed

November 25: Nagkahiusang Puwersa nga Mamumuo sa Giardini (NPMG) is formally registered as a legitimate labor organization and union of workers at the Giardini del Sole, Inc., one of the biggest furniture manufacturing and exporting companies in the country. The firm was established in 1986 by an Italian national named Boschi and exports to the US and Europe while producing also for the domestic market

December 5: Workers are given an early and month-long forced vacation and told to report for work again on January 5

January 5, 2009: The management of Giardini del Sole allows only 100 (none of them a union member) out of 400 workers to return to work after the holiday break. Around 300 workers hold an impromptu protest at the factory gates. In the afternoon they march to the NCMB office at Cebu and the union submits to preventive mediation

January 8: After several days of protest, an agreement is reached between the union and management. The agreement stipulates the following:
1. Establishment of a joint evaluation team that includes the union, management and the DOLE/NCMB to rotate work among as many of the workers as possible. The joint evaluation team will also monitor the company’s performance and recall the workers when demand picks up;
2. Granting of financial assistance of PhP 5,000 and one sack of rice per month for the duration of the temporary shutdown. It will be deductible from separation pay in case of permanent closure;
3. No worker will be terminated and only voluntary resignations will be accepted;
4. Release of backwages for the 2008 holiday pay equivalent to three days salary

January 14: The worker representative to the joint evaluation team walks out after two meetings since management does not recommend even a single name of an employee it is accepting for job rotation

January 22: NPMG files a notice of strike alleging union busting

January 23: NPMG members vote 70 for and none against holding a strike

January 26: Workers and the media monitor an Isuzu truck (plate number YCE 979) owned by supplier Green Peaks in Canduman, Mandaue City delivering 300 board feet of wood to the factory

January 27: Giardini del Sole workers lead a Lakbayan of displaced workers from Mandaue to the DOLE Region 7 office at Cebu City

February 2: Management of Giardini del Sole boycotts the meeting called by the NCMB to settle the labor dispute. It caps their hardline position in several weeks long of preventive mediation hearings against implementing the agreement on work rotation. It also illustrates the ineffectiveness of NCMB and DOLE in enforcing the agreement

February 3: NPMG goes on strike, gains sympathy of non-union workers and paralyzes operations of the export firm

February 4: Giardini del Sole’s operations remain paralyzed for the second straight day of the strike. Mandaue Mayor Jonas Cortes visits the picketline and expresses support for a resolution of the labor dispute. The Mayor calls for a negotiation between management and the union at the city hall

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