Thursday, July 7, 2011

Agency workers in Cebu ecozone form union

Press Release
July 7, 2011

In arguably the first time in the country, workers of a manpower agency deploying labor force in the Mactan Economic Zone (MEZ) in Metro Cebu successfully formed a union and won the certification elections (CE) in polls conducted last Tuesday at the Region VII office of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). “We now have a voice in our workplace and a union to protect our rights and welfare as workers both in the agency and the principal company,” declared Eddie Booc, president of the Agency Workers Union of Blaze.

Dennis Derige, spokesperson of Partido ng Manggagawa-Cebu, stated that “The no-union policy in the MEZ has been finally broken. The militancy of the Cebu workers has surmounted resistance of the capitalist, specially the locators association MEPZ-CEM, and the collusion of the government agencies specifically the Philippine Export Zone Authority and the DOLE. The victory of the union in the CE at the agency comes on the heels of the earlier union win in another union election at principal employer Blaze Manufacturing Corporation.”

In a close battle, some 19 voted yes and 18 voted no in the CE among workers of the A. Bones Manpower and Recruitment Agency. The agency places workers at the Blaze which was recently sold to a new owner. The Japanese-owned company produces construction materials for export to Japan.

Booc added that “The unionization of agency workers is another stage in the struggle against contractualization. We consider our fight as a continuation of the fight for regular and decent jobs such as the battle of the Philippine Airline Employees’ Union.”

The labor dispute at Blaze remains unresolved as some workers refused to accept the company’s offer of a separation package. The company closed its operations and separated its workers on the day a historic election was held that ended in a landslide victory for the union. PM-Cebu has accused Blaze of union busting.

Derige argued that the Blaze regular and agency workers are blazing a trail for the right to organize in the export zones. “PNoy declared in his speech at the UNI APRO meeting last Tuesday that labor laws must be reformed so that workers rights and welfare are protected.  We challenge PNoy to go beyond words and support the ecozones workers fighting for the right to unionize,”  he said.