May 15, 2009
Around a hundred workers from Sauna World (Sawo) picketed their manpower agency this morning at Mandaue City in protest at violations of labor standards. The agency workers were joined by former regular employees of Sawo and other members of Partido ng Manggagawa in the picket.
The workers are also asking that the Department of Labor investigate Cebu General Services for its non-payment of separation pay and other violations of labor standards. Cebu General Services is a big manpower agency that supplies contractual workers to the Mactan Export Processing Zone and even to the giant Mitsumi electronics factory in Danao.
Dennis Derige, spokesperson for PM in Cebu, said that “Manpower agencies are exploiting and thereby benefiting from the economic crisis. They are used as an alibi by their principals not to pay separation pay to retrenched workers. We are calling on all agencies workers to organize so they could assert their rights and welfare.”
The agency workers filed a case yesterday against both Sawo and Cebu General Services at the National Labor Relations Commission for illegal dismissal and non-payment of separation pay. Both the agency and regular workers were dismissed from Sawo last April 13 in the wake of a corporate dispute.
The agency workers had demanded from Sawo the same separation pay they gave to regular workers but they were referred instead to the Cebu General Services. Cebu General Services however refuses to give them separation pay since they will allegedly be reassigned though they have remained jobless since their termination from Sawo.
The agency employees argue that there are no more jobs for skilled sauna workers since there is no other sauna factory in Cebu. Sawo is the biggest sauna equipment maker in the whole of Asia.
Derige also assailed the government for its pronouncements on economic recovery and job rehiring. He explained that “We are asking the government to identify which export firms that have retrenched workers have rehired and how workers have reclaimed their jobs. At the grassroots level, we know of no factory inside MEPZ that have rehired their retrenched workers.”
PM is claiming that job rehiring is “another myth from this government of lies.” Derige added that “News of rehiring is a lie no different from the fake low unemployment figures that have been exposed by the recent SWS survey that show joblessness at 34% instead of just 7.7%.”