Thursday, June 18, 2009

Labor unrest escalates as protests rock Keppel shipyard and Paul Yu factory

Press Release
June 18, 2009

The simmering discontent among Cebu workers escalated into open protests with Keppel workers barging into their shipyard after one month of forced leave, and Paul Yu workers picketing the Philippine Export Zone Authority (PEZA) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

“The Paul Yu workers are now on their fourth day of a work stoppage in support of seven suspended leaders while the Keppel labor dispute has been simmering for almost four months already. The government must act today with dispatch on the workers just demands or else it will have to face a full-blown workers rebellion tomorrow,” stated Dennis Derige, spokesperson of the Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) in Cebu.

Some 80 Keppel workers returned to work early morning today with the lapse of their one month forced leave yesterday. 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. The Keppel workers are holding a sitdown protest at the moment while awaiting a response from management on their demand that they be able to work again.

“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 (NMB) Keppel Shipyard-National Federation of Labor (NFL).

Meanwhile the Paul Yu workers picketed the PEZA offices while the seven suspended leaders and representatives of contractual workers held a dialogue at 9 a.m. with export zone officials and representatives of management. At 2 p.m. will troop to the DOLE office in Cebu City for a hearing on the complaint the workers filed against management.

Willy Dondoyano, head of the Paul Yu workers association, said that “The three-day workweek implemented since December lacks proper documentation and due notice. Also workdays were reduced for regular workers while 40% of production is outsourced to contractors.” 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 and thus illegal. They 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.

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