March 16, 2009
The labor union of Keppel Cebu filed a notice of strike this afternoon as management announced this morning that it will push through with a redundancy program. The redundancy will mean the loss of 70% of 280 regular jobs. The Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Baradero (NMB) Keppel Shipyard-National Federation of Labor (NFL) charged management with union busting.
Roger Igot, president of NMB-NFL, “Workers will again not leave the shipyard premises and sacrifice time with our families in order to protest the illegal termination. Keppel management is using the crisis as an excuse to replace regular jobs with cheap and docile contractual labor.” Last week union members started protest actions by remaining within the shipyard compound despite the end of their shift.
Management assembled its work force this morning and despite opposition from the workers, announced the implementation of the redundancy program. Keppel management earlier tried to downsize its work force by offering a voluntary resignation package which the union also rejected. The redundancy is in line with Keppel Cebu’s decision to shift from ship repair to ship building. The union however argues that ship building entails even more workers in spite of the introduction of machinery.
Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) and its allied unions anounced that they will support the strike of Keppel workers. “If the Keppel labor dispute matures into a strike, it will be the third strike in just two months following on the heels of the Giardini del Sole workers. A strike wave is taking shape and the labor unrest is being fanned by the capitalists’ penchant for shifting the burden of the crisis on the workers,” argued Dennis Derige, spokesperson of PM.
He added that “Management pays a regular Keppel worker much higher wages and benefits compared to a contractual laborer who makes do with below minimum wages and no benefits.”
“Contractualization on the shipyards will mean work accidents like what is happening in Hanjin at Subic. Contractualization is not just a plague on the workers but a hazard to marine safety and the riding public. We ask the Marina to explore this angle in the hearing on Keppel’s turn to shipbuilding,” Igot explained. ###