February 13, 2015
The two-day strike at Tae Sung Philippines, a Korean-owned metal factory at the
economic zone, ended late last night with an agreement between the union and
management for wage increases and additional benefits. Just before midnight, more
than a hundred jubilant strikers held a “victory march” from the factory to the
main gate of the export zone.
The union got a substantial pay hike which was the most contested part of the deadlocked bargaining. Management also agreed to other benefits demanded by the union such as additional leaves and annual Christmas package.
Since the strike broke out last Wednesday morning, marathon mediation meetings have been held by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB). Apparently recognizing the importance of the Tae Sung dispute, no less than the national executive director of NCMB, Reynaldo Ubaldo, together with the OIC’s of the NCMB-NCR and NCMB-Calabarzon, and the head of the DOLE-Calabarzon, facilitated the mediation.
“The workers of Tae Sung and even other companies in the ecozone have learned a valuable lesson. That they will have to unionize and fight to get a decent share in the fruits of their labor. They cannot depend on the bankrupt two-tiered wage scheme of the government,” stated Wilson Fortaleza, spokesperson of Partido Manggagawa (PM).
In the two-tiered wage scheme implemented in Calabarzon since 2012, the minimum wage is replaced by a floor wage that is set low and unchanged for five years. Increases above the floor wage will depend on negotiated productivity-based pay.
“But at Tae Sung, despite annual profits of more than USD 14 million, management did nothing to share productivity gains to its workers. Thus before the strike, most Tae Sung workers earned no more than the floor wage despite their company supplying metal parts to big electronics and auto multinationals like American Power Conversion, Honda, Caterpillar, Mitsubishi, Siemens and Deif of Denmark,” argued Fortaleza.
He added that “The Tae Sung union owes its victory to the determination of its members and to the solidarity of the labor movement in the country and abroad. The assistance of international groups was a key factor in putting pressure on Tae Sung’s multinational clients so that a fair resolution of the dispute is reached.”