February 15, 201
Workers of Alta Mode Inc., a garments factory in the Mactan Economic Zone (MEZ), launched an impromptu picket around 10 a.m. today outside the gates of the export zone after they were refused entry to go to work. “This is the start of continued protests against the union busting scheme of management in the guise of a shutdown,” explained Reynante Pelino, president of the Alta Mode Workers Union (AMWU).
Some 90 members of AMWU vowed to picket the MEZ gates until this afternoon and then continue the protest in the succeeding days. Since early this morning the Alta Mode workers were expecting management to meet them and explain the written notice delivered to them. “We challenge management to come and justify the impending closure. A written notice cannot answer the workers’ questions on the factory shutdown,” insisted Pelino.
In a strike vote last Friday, AMWU members decided 86 for and only one against going on strike. Only five AMWU members were absent in the overwhelming decision to go on strike. The day before the strike vote, AMWU officers filed a notice of strike at the Department of Labor and Employment office in Cebu City.
In the written notice, Alta Mode claimed that financial losses constrained them to close the factory come March 15. But AMWU members believe otherwise and accuse management of trying to bust the union.
The labor party-list Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) declared it support for the embattled AMWU. Dennis Derige, spokesperson for PM in Cebu, called on Cebuano workers to “Rally around in solidarity with the Alta Mode workers for this is the fight all export zone workers. Since the start of the global recession, workers have struggles against layoffs, reduced workdays, poor working conditions and the right to organize.”
Pelino likewise challenged candidates running for national and local positions to state their stand on the issue of decent jobs and workers rights. “Motherhood statements about being pro-poor or being for reform will not do. Workers want to know if they support our ongoing fight for workers rights and welfare,” he argued.