Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Labor party calls on government to address wanton violation of labor standards in Global Steel

Partido ng Manggagawa-Iligan
23 February 2010

Labor party calls on government to address wanton violation of labor standards in Global Steel

Iligan City – A labor partylist group, Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), throws its support to a weeklong wildcat strike resorted to by workers at the Global Steel Philippines, Incorporated (GSPI).

According to Demy Plando, a member and legal counsel of PM’s Iligan-Lanao Del Norte chapter, the wildcat strike was a legitimate response by the Global Steel workers whose working conditions were stretched to the limits by their insensitive employer.

“Working under such conditions of unpaid salaries, non-payment of 13th month pay benefits, non-remittance of SSS, Philhealth, and Pag-ibig premiums, non-payment of overtime premium, and non-compliance of safety and environmental standards is no doubt revolting and thus the right to concerted action is a legitimate weapon workers can resort to defend their constitutionally-guaranteed rights,” said Plando.

Plando is a former employee and union officer of the defunct National Steel Corporation (NSC). He is now a lawyer and is running for the City Council of Iligan.

The GSPI workers went on a wildcat strike last February 15, right after a mediation meeting between the union and management collapsed over issues of non-compliance to CBA, unpaid wages and benefits, non-payment of overtime premiums, and safety concerns, among others, which constitute gross violations of existing labor laws.

The labor group argued that in this case it is the duty of the State to side with the workers and refrain from playing a neutral role in this case, invoking the principle of primacy of labor over capital that is enshrined in the Constitution.

“The government has reasons to invite foreign investors into the country but it also has the primary duty to protect labor and in no instance submit them to an 18th century type of capitalist exploitation,” stressed Plando.

The GSPI used to be the National Steel Corporation (NSC). The company is now owned by of the Global Steel Holdings Co. of the Mittal family in India.

Global Steel Labor Union President Elmer Nelson V. Nayon said the Indian company is flagrantly violating Philippine labor and economic laws since it took over in 2004 on the pretext of alleged liquidity problems and profitability issues by the abusive Indian investors in collaboration with corrupt government officials.

The Partido ng Manggagawa warns the GSPI management not to resort to any retaliatory action against its striking workers or else they face the wrath of the whole community of Iligan who value labor rights much as well as safety and environmental standards.

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