April 4, 2009
The Keppel Cebu union with supporters from the Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) held a rally outside the shipyard’s gates in protest at the redundancy program of management. The 10 a.m. mass action was in reaction to the list of 70 workers to be terminated for redundancy that was released by management yesterday. Together with 47 workers who had earlier availed of management’s retirement program, this meant that the total 280 regular workforce will be reduced by almost half.
Roger Igot, president of Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Baradero (NMB) Keppel Shipyard-National Federation of Labor (NFL), said that “The redundancy announced by management is tainted with bad faith since negotiations with the union on the issue are still ongoing. This is an early Black Friday for the 70 workers who are to be jobless due to redundancy.”
Around 100 protesters picketed the Keppel Cebu shipyard with the delegation from PM coming from workers of General Milling Corp., Lami Foods, Neostone, Prince Warehouse, Giardini del Sole and residents of nearby communities of Looc and Poblacion. “The fight of Keppel workers for jobs is the fight of all Cebuano workers,” declared Dennis Derige, spokesperson for PM-Cebu.
Last March 15, the union filed a notice of strike alleging union busting and the next day an overwhelming majority of the members voted for a work stoppage. Igot also disclosed that Keppel Sing-marine Philippines, Inc. has filed with the Board of Investments for pioneer status. Keppel Sing-marine Philippines will supposedly employ 620 workers through the P590-million facility for making tugboats and support vessels.
“That means once Keppel Cebu terminates many of the 280 regular workers and union members then the remaining employees will be a minority among more than 500 contractuals of Keppel Sing-marine. The contractual workers will only be paid the minimum wage and moreover will be without the protection of a union and benefit of a collective bargaining agreement,” insisted Igot.
Derige added that “How ironic that while Keppel may receive generous perks such as tax-and duty-free importation of capital equipment, income tax holiday of up to six years and exemption from wharf dues, export tax and import fees, it demolishes regular jobs and destroy workers lives. Foreign capitalists get corporate welfare while Filipino workers are denied social protection. Any company that will get assistance from the government must be prohibited from mass layoffs.”