October 19, 2010
The labor union at the Best Chemical and Plastics Inc. / Best Chemicals Inc. (BCPI BCI), a Korean-owned factory at Carmona, Cavite, withdrew its notice of strike yesterday as management agreed to start negotiations for a first collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Dennis Sequena, an officer of Partido ng Manggagawa in Cavite who are supporting the BCPI workers, stated that “The start of CBA negotiations at BCPI is a breakthrough for labor rights.”
In a marathon mediation meeting last night at the BCPI compound facilitated by the Region IV-A office of the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB), the union and management signed a memorandum of agreement. The agreement stipulates that the union withdraws its pending of strike, that union and management agrees to the ground rules for CBA negotiations, and that management will submit its CBA counter proposal in the first meeting set on October 27.
Meanwhile Alex del Rosario, president of the BCPI BCI Independent Union, declared that “The right to organize a union and bargain collectively has been an uphill battle won through the unity and determination of workers.” Del Rosario averred that the union is hopeful that the agreement will be kept by management but declared that they are ready to push through with the planned strike if the MOA is violated.
The workers would have held the strike today after the lapse of the 15-day cooling off period and the 7-day notification period. The union had submitted the results of the strike vote last October 11 to the NCMB.
Sequena called on the government to respect the workers exercise of the freedom to unionize and bargain. He added warned that “The spotlight is still on the Philippines since it was only last year that the ILO sent a high level mission to investigate the government’s enforcement of Convention 87 on the freedom of self-organization and Convention 98 on the right to collective bargaining amidst allegation of employer interference and state indifference if not collusion.”
The union filed a notice of strike last September 27 on grounds of management’s refusal to bargain. Management repeatedly ignored the union’s request to table the CBA proposal it submitted. After an inconclusive mediation meeting called by the NCMB IV-A last October 8, the union held a strike vote. The workers decided overwhelmingly to hold a strike with 60 voting yes, none voting no but with one spoiled ballot out of 71 union members.
Sequena quoted the US State Department’s recent “2009 Human Rights Report on the Philippines” in which it is avowed that “Labor law applies uniformly throughout the country, including in the special economic zones (SEZs); however, local political leaders and officials who governed the SEZs attempted to frustrate union organizing efforts by maintaining union-free or strike-free policies.”