June 15, 2009
Hundreds of workers of a big lamp shade factory in the Mactan Export Processing Zone (MEPZ) in Lapu-Lapu City refused to work today in sympathy with seven leaders that were suspended due to a protest action last month. Some 300 workers of Paul Yu, a locator in MEPZ II producing lamp shades for the export and local market, massed up outside the plant gates in protest. The work stoppage almost paralyzed the plant operations as only a few employees were working inside the factory.
“The suspension of seven leaders of the Paul Yu workers are not just in retaliation for the protest action last May 8 but also for the filing of a case last May 21 against management’s numerous unfair labor practices,” stated Willy Dondoyano, a leader of the Paul Yu workers and one of the seven suspended.
The work stoppage started at 8 a.m. today when seven leaders of the Paul Yu workers association were prevented from entering the factory premises on the strength of a suspension order. The preventive suspension was slapped by management supposedly for an “illegal strike” conducted last May 8. Officials of the Philippine Export Zone Authority (PEZA) have met with the workers to convince them to return to work without their leaders but the protesters are adamant that all employees must be accepted back including those illegally suspending by management.
Dondoyano argued that “The May 8 protest cannot be considered an illegal strike for management agreed to face the workers in a dialogue together with PEZA officials. In the minutes of the dialogue that was duly signed by PEZA officials, it is stated that there will be no retaliatory action against workers involved in the protest.”
“Management is merely turning the tables on the workers. It is management that is guilty of illegal acts and unfair labor practice which we spelled out in the case we filed last May 21 at the Labor Department. Among these infractions is the three-day workweek implemented since December that lacks proper documentation and due notice with the Labor Department. Moreover, management is reducing the workdays for regular workers even as it continues to outsource 40% of its production to contractors,” he added.
The workers also found out that the AVI Amor Vil Inc., the biggest among three agencies that Paul Yu has contracted to supply workers for the factory, is not registered with the Labor Department and is thus another illegal act by management. A hearing has been scheduled on Thursday by the Labor Department to hear the complaints filed by the workers.
Among the protesting workers are agency employees who are up in arms at labor contractualization at Paul Yu. Many agency employees have worked for several years, some as long as five years, yet they remain irregulars whose contracts are renewed continuously every two months. Workers are also complaining of non-payment of holiday pay, non-remittance of SSS deductions for agency workers, non-implementation of paternity leave and non-payment of break time.
“Paul Yu is another case of a capitalist using the global crisis as an excuse to demolish workers rights and undercut labor standards. Workers are refusing to pay the price of a crisis that is not of their making. We salute the solidarity of the workers at Paul Yu, and their fight for labor rights,” stated Dennis Derige, spokesperson of Partido ng Manggagawa in Cebu.