September 4, 2009
Some 1,000 workers are being retrenched by a group of four garments factories in the Mactan Export Processing Zone in Cebu. The Sports City group of garments firms that includes Metroware, Mactan Apparel, Fedder Apparel and Global has sent notices to several sets of its workers and already paying separation pay to the first few batches.
Among those laid off is a Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) leader in Metroware who is accusing the company of illegal dismissal since he is being retrenched for his efforts to organize his fellow workers. Jose Pelino, Jr. went today to the office of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Cebu City to receive his separation pay and also to talk to DOLE Regional Director Cayanong about his complaint.
Pelino said that he noticed being under intense observation by management for the last two weeks. Yesterday around 1:30 pm he was called by top management to a meeting where he was told that he is being retrenched. Pelino questioned his dismissal and refused to sign a document accepting his retrenchment. He demanded from management to implement a voluntary retrenchment program so that only those workers willing to go will be laid off but others still willing to work can remain in the company. He also admitted to management that he has already organized many workers in Sports City who call for the same demand of voluntary retrenchment.
After the confrontation with management, he left the factory at 4:00 pm yesterday and noticed three motorcycles tailing him. The three motorcycles followed him from the Metroware plant to the gates of MEPZ I and up to the street of his house at Sitio Gabi, Progress, Brgy. Gun-ob, Lapu-Lapu City.
“The three men in motorcycles did not try to hide the fact that they were tailing me for four kilometers and is obviously meant to harass and scare me. The circumstances of this harassment show that it is related to my organizing activities at Metroware,” Pelino alleged.
Accompanied by other PM-Cebu leaders, Pelino reported the harassment incident to the police today. Dennis Derige, spokesperson of PM-Cebu, challenged the DOLE and PEZA to act with dispatch on Pelino’s complaint of illegal dismissal and harassment. He said that “Just several weeks ago, leaders of MEPZ workers met DOLE, PEZA and DTI officials about their grievances and the government representatives promised reforms to protect labor standards and workers rights. Pelino’s case shows that nothing has yet changed, in fact it may have gone worse.”