Friday, July 10, 2015

Unionists harassed at big Cavite garments factory

Press Release
July 10, 2015

Workers who are building a labor union at the biggest garments factory at the Cavite economic zone in the town of Rosario are complaining of harassment and interference by management. One worker of Faremo International Inc. has already filed a formal complaint for harassment, unfair labor practice and illegal suspension.

“Despite alleged reforms initiated by the Department of Labor and Employment in the wake of the International Labor Organization High Level Mission in 2009 to investigate extra judicial killings of unionists and violations of the freedom of association, union busting and management interference in the workers right to organize is a reality in the Cavite ecozone and beyond,” asserted Rene Magtubo, Partido Manggagawa (PM) national chair.

PM organizers are assisting the Faremo workers in the exercise of their right to unionize. The workers started forming a union in May this year and by late June management had reacted by harassing active unionists and intimidating other workers against joining. More than a dozen workers were interrogated individually in management offices, asked to stop the unionization effort and offered money in return for “voluntary resignation.” Some four workers were forced in this way to resign.

Faremo worker Edwin Semeca was subjected three times to this “modus operandi” by management and after his third interrogation—in which he was virtually detained about eight hours in the company showroom and later in the human resource office—he decided to file a complaint last July 2. After the complaint reached management, he was then suspended for seven days for absence without leave. His complaint is due to be heard on Monday, July 13, at the DOLE office in Imus.

Faremo, with some 1,500 workers, mostly female and of which 800 are regular, is the largest garments manufacturer at the Cavite ecozone. It is a subsidiary of the Korean multinational Hansoll Textile Ltd. which operates other factories in Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Guatemala and Nicaragua. Faremo produces apparel for famous American brands Gap, JC Penney and Kohl’s.

Apart from harassing active unionists, Semeca also stated that “Since June regular workers and contractual workers who are being regularized, are asked not to join the union and sign papers pledging to refuse unionization. This intimidation continues to this day. Also we also have reliable information that management is preparing to offer separation to a big number of workers to stop the unionization dead in its tracks.”

Magtubo challenged the DOLE to act immediately on union busting case at Faremo and called on the labor movement for solidarity. “The union at Faremo—and the dream of better life for workers—is a David fighting a Korean multinational Goliath. The Faremo workers want to form a union so as to improve their low pay and have a voice in the workplace but the greed for profit conflicts with labor’s inherent rights,” he insisted.

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