Friday, June 19, 2009

Keppel shipyard union goes on strike and export zone workers hold sitdown protest

Press Release
June 19, 2009

The labor unrest in Cebu continues to escalate as the Keppel shipyard union went on strike at 5 a.m. today and the workers of Paul Yu, a lamp shade factory inside the Mactan Export Processing Zone, held both a sitdown protest inside the plant and a picket outside the gates.

“The State must act today with dispatch on the workers just demands or else it will have to face a full-blown workers rebellion tomorrow. We want the government to get busy with social protection for the workers instead of term extension for GMA,” stated Dennis Derige, spokesperson of the Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) in Cebu.

The shipyard workers went on strike today alleging union busting by management with picketlines setup outside the shipyard facilities. Yesterday 80 Keppel workers barged into their shipyard after one month of forced leave. The guards tried to prevent them from entering the shipyard on the pretext that the forced leave has been extended for another month but the workers were able to force their way past the gates. In a dialogue with management yesterday the Keppel union opposed the extension of their previous one month forced leave by another 30 days.

“One month is too long for our families to go hungry and sacrifice for management’s mistaken if not malicious decision to shift from ship repair to ship building. If Keppel will not open the shipyard for work then we ask the government to takeover the facilities and we will continue with the profitable ship repair work,” declared Roger Igot, president of Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Baradero Keppel Shipyard-National Federation of Labor.

Willy Dondoyano, head of the Paul Yu workers association, appealed for solidarity from export zone workers. “We ask for the support of our fellow workers inside the export zone. We all suffer the same violations of labor standards and repression of labor rights. Let us join hands in a common struggle for workers rights and welfare,” he stated.

In the hearing yesterday on the complaint filed by the Paul Yu workers, the Labor Department ordered the regularization of direct-hired contractual workers and the grant of benefits like paternity leave and service incentive leave for agency workers. The other major issues like the reduction of working days, job outsourcing, regularization of agency workers and money claims for three years of non-implementation of paternity leave and service incentive leave were remanded to the National Conciliation and Mediation Board. The Labor Department asked the workers to file a case at the National Labor Relations Commission regarding the suspension of the seven leaders.

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