Thursday, September 24, 2009

Case file of Cebu union submitted to ILO as workers end campout in export zone

Press Release
September 24, 2009

The Partido ng Manggagawa formally submitted to the ILO High Level Mission (HLM) a case file on a Cebu export zone union detailing incidents that violate Convention 87 on the right to self-organization. Judy Ann Miranda, Partido ng Manggagawa secretary general, stated that “Even as the ILO HLM conducts its investigation on the government’s implementation and enforcement of Convention 87, in the Mactan Economic Zone (MEZ), a union is fighting for its life.”

The laid off workers of Alta Mode, a garments export firm in MEZ II that subcontracts for Abercrombie & Fitch among other multinational corporations, lifted today their picketline outside the company gates since their employer has agreed to a meeting tomorrow. Renante Pelino, president of Alta Mode Workers Union (AMWU), declared that “We end our campout in good faith to remove any obstacle to a dialogue with top management on our demands for recognition of the union, work rotation, financial assistance to laid off workers and union access to the factory during the temporary shutdown.”

Pelino said that “We call the attention of the ILO mission to the de facto ‘no union, no strike’ policy in the export zones. Yesterday it took hours of haggling just to allow food and water to be brought to hungry and thirsty workers in the campout. Criminals get better treatment in jails compared to protesting workers inside the export zones.”

At 2:00 pm this afternoon, around 100 AMWU members marched some 400 meters from the Alta Mode factory to the MEZ II main gate and were met by dozens of their families, other union members, and supporters from the Partido ng Manggagawa and other unions. The AMWU members chanted “Makibaka, Wag Matakot” as export zone workers watched the march proceed.

In a meeting last night with representatives of the National Conciliation and Mediation Board, Philippine Export Zone Authority and Aboitiz Land which owns MEZ II, AMWU agreed to lift the picketline in return for a dialogue with management. Since the declaring a temporary shutdown last September 11, Alta Mode has refused to negotiate with AMWU.

Among the recommendations forwarded in the AMWU case file are the following:

1. For the Philippine Export Zone Authority (PEZA) to form tripartite councils within all export zones with the mandate to discuss workers grievances and employers concerns within the export zone, and recommend actions to resolve the issues.
2. For the PEZA to setup billboards at every single gate of export zones with the message that (a) it is state policy to guarantee labor rights, (b) the law encourages trade unionism and collective bargaining, and (c) management interference in the right to organize is unfair labor practice.
3. For employers within the export zone to put up notices at company gates that it is company policy to the respect labor laws and specifically that it will not interfere in the workers exercise of freedom to organize.
4. For the PEZA to draft, in consultation with workers, an education seminar on labor rights, standards and welfare based on provisions of the labor code for all export zones workers, including managerial and supervisory employees, to be attended within their first six months of their employment.
5. For the Executive to draft a course on labor rights, standards and welfare to be included in the mandatory curriculum for secondary and tertiary education.
6. For the PEZA and employers to allow representatives of labor organizations, specifically union organizers, access to the export zones and to company premises for the purpose of union organizing and other union activities, including workers concerted actions.
7. For the PEZA to allow representatives of media access to the export zones for the purpose of reporting on workers’ concerted activities, including strikes, conducted inside the zone.
8. For the PEZA to guarantee the exercise of the workers right to engage in concerted activities, including strikes without harassment or intimidation by PEZA police, company guards or any agent of state authorities.

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