Friday, April 17, 2015

KEPCO workers protest low pay, union repression

Photo by Allan DEfensor of Sun Star Cebu
Press Release
April 16, 2015

Workers of KEPCO-Salcon Power Corporation today held a noisy but peaceful protest action at its Naga City plant. In a show of force and expression of solidarity, members of both the rank-and-file and supervisory unions jointly participated in the protest.

“We call on the management KEPCO-Cebu to heed their workers just demands. We say enough of low wages that do not keep up with the rising costs of living. We say enough to harassment and intimidation of workers exercising their right to join unions,” asserted Alex Ponce, President of the rank and file union Kepco Cebu Employees Association - Workers Solidarity Network (KCEA - WSN) .

As workers protested in Naga, the National Conciliation and Mediation Board conducted another mediation hearing between union and management. The two KEPCO unions both filed notices of strike for union busting and unfair labor practice last April 8.

“There is an anomalous disconnect between pay and productivity in our industry. According to a survey on labor productivity, every worker in the energy sector generates P4.1 million in earnings annually but in comparison we are paid a meager about 5% yearly. Is this inclusive growth?” explained Lowell Sanchez, President of supervisory union Kepco Cebu Supervisors Association - Workers Solidarity Network (KCSA - WSN).

The two KEPCO unions, both affiliated to Workers Solidarity Network-SENTRO, are also demanding a stop to the harassment of union members and the reinstatement of two supervisory union officers who were fired for union activities.

The unions denounced management for “being intransigent” and even refusing to attend the mediation hearing with the supervisors union. “Apparently KEPCO’s tactic is be hardline in negotiations as it expects the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to prevent a strike through its assumption of jurisdiction powers. We appeal to the good sense of DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz against falling prey to KEPCO’s dirty play. We hope she stands true to her declaration that government intervention in labor disputes is now a thing of the past,” Sanchez declared.

The International Labor Organization along with local labor groups have previously criticized the abuse of the government’s power to assume jurisdiction as a suppression of the right to strike.

“KEPCO employees call on our fellow Filipinos for understanding and our fellow workers for solidarity. Our fight for fair wages is also the fight of Filipino workers who suffer low pay. Our fight for labor rights is also the fight of all workers who deserve a voice in the workplace. Ang laban ng KEPCO workers ay laban ng lahat,” explained Ponce.

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