June 17, 2009
Workers of Paul Yu, a lamp shade factory inside the Mactan Export Processing Zone (MEPZ) II producing for the export and local market, marked their third day of a work stoppage with a march from their factory to the Philippine Export Zone Authority (PEZA) office at the adjoining MEPZ I compound. The seven suspended leaders of the Paul Yu workers’ association were again prevented from entering the plant and more than 300 workers again refused to work in sympathy.
“We denounce the PEZA for being inutile in enforcing labor standards and protecting labor rights in the export zone. The MEPZ is a haven of criminals in suits while the export zone authority is a coddler of these crooked capitalists,” insisted Willy Dondoyano, head of the workers association and one of the seven suspended.
Some 30 workers from the nearby Altamode garments factory and members of the Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) marched in solidarity with the Paul Yu protesters. “The support of fellow workers is essential in gaining victory for the struggle of Paul Yu workers. We call on the workers of the export zone to join hands in solidarity in defense of our rights and welfare,” Renante Pelino, president of the newly-formed union at Altamode.
The work stoppage today paralyzed both the finishing section and the “black hand,” the main department of Paul Yu’s production where lamp shades are welded. The workers have however learned Paul Yu management is outsourcing the work at the black hand.
In the dialogue presided by the National Mediation and Conciliation Board (NCMB) yesterday, the representative of the Paul Yu management admitted that the preventive suspension of the seven leaders was faulty yet they will stand by their decision and threatened to slap absence without leave on the hundreds of workers who have refused to work. Today management sent a notice that they will terminate the contract of agency workers, many of which have participated in the protests.
“How can a foreign capitalist like the Taiwanese owner of Paul Yu stand above and ride roughshod over the Labor Code with the government powerless to lift a finger to protect the labor rights of Filipino workers? And then government wants to revise the Constitution to give more privileges for foreigners to control our economy and patrimony,” said Dennis Derige, PM spokesperson.
Tomorrow the Labor Department will hear the case filed by Paul Yu workers that three-day workweek implemented since December lacks proper documentation and due notice. The workers are also complaining that the workdays are reduced for regular workers while 40% of production is outsourced to contractors. They 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.
Among the protesting workers are agency employees who 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.