Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Labor Day strike in Cebu? DOLE asked to respect KEPCO workers right to strike over low pay, union busting

Press Release
April 29, 2015

The labor party Partido Manggagawa (PM) today called on Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz to “stay” its use of assumption of jurisdiction powers as requested by the management of KEPCO-Salcon Power Corp. in Naga, Cebu. “We call on Secretary Baldoz to give a reprieve to the KEPCO unions so that they can exercise their right to strike against low pay and union busting. We hope Sec. Baldoz will remain true to her word that government intervention in labor disputes is now a thing of the past,” asserted PM chair Rene Magtubo.

Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla has said that a power outage may hit Mactan City and the island of Negros should a strike push through at the 200MW KEPCO power plant. However, PM avers that KEPCO is refusing to meet its workers demands as it expects that the planned strike will be stopped through an assumption of jurisdiction (AJ) order.

The rank-and-file and supervisory workers who are affiliated to WSN-Sentro can hold a strike as early as tomorrow but the unions will still attend a mediation hearing scheduled tomorrow morning. They are also meeting the Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III today.

“The rank-and-file and supervisory KEPCO unions have already offered to avert a strike by narrowing its main demand to the reinstatement of union leaders fired because of union activities. But we suspect management is still playing hardball as it expects an AJ order against the unions,” insisted Magtubo.

He added that “We ask KEPCO to moderate its greed. The power industry is the most profitable sector of the economy with the richest Filipinos and foreign investors like Korea’s KEPCO engaged in an industry that is structured in such a way that there is no possible way to lose money. Every cent of business expense is passed on to consumers, mainly the middle class and the working poor, thus we have one of the most expensive electricity rates in world.”

PM avers that productivity in the power sector is the highest of all industries yet the fruits of labor appear not as wages for workers but as profit for capitalists. “According to the Census of Philippine Business and Industry in 2012, the power industry’s labor productivity is at PhP 4 million annually per worker. In contrast, KEPCO rank-and-file workers receive an average of just PhP 13,000 per month or PhP 169,000 per year. Thus workers wages at KEPCO amounts to just 4% of the industry’s labor productivity,” Magtubo explained.


He asserted that “The meager wages of KEPCO workers was the motive for them to unionize and bargain as a means of enhancing their working and living standards. But rather than respect labor’s right to self-organization and collective negotiations, KEPCO is busting the supervisors union and harassing rank-and-file workers whose union has already been certified as the sole and exclusive bargaining agent.”

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