June 23, 2009
Workers of Paul Yu, a Taiwanese-owned factory in the Mactan Export Processing Zone in Lapu-Lapu City producing lamp shades for the global and local market, have brought their fight to cyberspace even as they continue their protests on the ground. The Paul Yu workers association has started an online campaign to garner support for their fight against management which has suspended not just seven leaders but more than 300 workers who have participated in protests.
“We were inspired by protesters against con-ass who use cyberspace and blogs. But in our case, an online campaign also broadcasts our appeal to labor and advocacy groups abroad. The main customers of Paul Yu are in the US and Europe where there is heightened consumer and corporate consciousness in patronizing products which have been made in factories which respect codes of conduct, labor standards and workers rights,” explained Willy Dondoyano, president of the Paul Yu workers association.
The Paul Yu workers struggle continues to gain solidarity from abroad with a letter of concern signed by the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) sent today to the management with copies furnished to the Labor Department and the Philippine Export Zone Authority.
The UE letter states that “We will be watching this situation closely, and urge you to take immediate steps to ensure that the labor protections and associational rights of your employees under both domestic and international law are respected. It is our hope that you will reverse the suspensions and engage in a serous and meaningful dialog with the workers association in order to regularize employment and create a work environment beneficial to both your employees and the company.” The letter was signed by top three national officers of the union which represent 35,000 workers in the US.
“We appeal to our fellow Filipinos and workers to sign up for the online campaign as an innovative form to complement our grassroots protest,” said Dennis Derige, spokesperson for Partido ng Manggagawa-Cebu. The online campaign can be accessed at http://www.labourstart.org/cgi-bin/solidarityforever/show_campaign.cgi?c=543. The background information for the campaign can be seen at http://partidongmanggagawa2001.blogspot.com/2009/06/appeal-for-solidarity-for-paul-yu.html.
Since the online campaign started late last night, over a 14-hour period some 10 unionists from the US, Canada, Germany, Australia, India and Malaysia have already signed up. Over the weekend the US-based advocacy group International Labor Rights Forum also sent a letter to Paul Yu management expressing concern about labor rights violations at the factory.