February 11, 2010
The labor union at Alta Mode Inc., a garments factory in the Mactan Economic Zone, today filed a notice of strike as management yesterday announced its abrupt closure on March 15. “The shutdown of Alta Mode is a vicious tactic to bust the union,” insisted Reynante Pelino, president of the Alta Mode Workers Union (AMWU).
Leaders of the AMWU trooped to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) office in Cebu City early this morning to file the notice of strike. Within the week, the union plans to call for a strike vote among its almost 100 members. According to the Labor Code, disputes arising from complaints of union busting are immediately strikeable without going through the usual cooling off period.
Alta Mode, an apparel exporter and subcontractor for global brands such as Abercrombie & Fitch, has been rocked by labor disputes and workers unrest over unfair working conditions and the freedom to organize for almost a year already. Pelino added that “The workers are not buying Alta Mode’s line that they are losing money. They want to shutdown the factory because they do want to face organized workers who assert their rights and fight for their welfare.”
The labor party-list Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) announced it solidarity for the workers of Alta Mode. Renato Magtubo, PM national chairperson, said that “We challenge the politicians who claim to run on a platform of reform or who say they are pro-poor to put their money where their mouths are and support the workers who stand to lose their jobs simply because they assert their constitutional rights.”
Magtubo further added that “We would like to remind the DOLE that the ILO High Level Mission just recently released its report on the implementation of Convention 87 on the freedom of association which will be tabled this coming March at another ILO meeting. The Alta Mode case highlights the no-union policy inside export zones that is in direct contravention with Convention 87.”
Pelino appealed for the understanding and solidarity of fellow workers in the MEZ. “An injury to one is an injury to all. The fight of the Alta Mode workers is the struggle of all export zone workers,” he explained. Since the start of the global recession late in 2008, the MEZ has seen a series of mass actions and militant struggles by workers over layoffs, reduced workdays, poor working conditions and the right to organize.