Friday, November 20, 2015

Group slams PNoy for prioritizing Korean investments over workers’ concerns

Picketline at Tae Sung factory in February 2015
The labor party-list group Partido Manggagawa (PM) denounced President Benigno Aquino III for neglecting to raise urgent concerns of Filipino workers of Korean-owned companies in the country to South Korean President Park Geun-Hye at the just concluded Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. Media had reported that Aquino vowed to protect some one million Koreans residing in the Philippines as requested by Park.

Rene Magtubo, PM national chair, stated that “As we expected, when President Aquino met President Park, they talked about promoting trade and investments. Aquino spoke not a word about protecting union rights and decent pay for workers despite many ongoing labor rows involve Korean-owned factories in the Philippines.”

“On the specific case of Korea’s state-owned KEPCO coal plant in Cebu, the Office of the President had intervened to impose an assumption of jurisdiction (AJ) on the planned strike against illegal dismissals and union busting. These circumstances merit it being discussed between the two presidents if only to resolve the long-running dispute,” Magtubo added.

Workers from two Korean-owned companies now embroiled in labor disputes had challenged APEC on the issue of labor rights. Employees of power company KEPCO-Cebu and metal factory Tae Sung in Cavite have charged their managements with union busting and have pending labor disputes.

Lowell Sanchez, president of the KEPCO Cebu Supervisors Association (KCSA-WSN-Sentro), challenged the government to resolve the labor dispute. The KEPCO union filed a notice of strike last June for the unfair dismissal of Sanchez. The planned strike of the KEPCO workers was stopped by an AJ order so that it will not affect the APEC ministers meeting in Cebu last August. KEPCO operates coal plants in Cebu and Batangas.

Meanwhile, according to Charlie Piamonte, union president of Tae Sung Employees Association (TEA), they filed a notice of strike last November 12 for union busting. He explained that Tae Sung illegally fired union officer Joven Niviar, among other incidents of harassment of union members. The union is planning to conduct a strike vote within the next few days. Under the law, a union may launch a strike seven days after a majority of union members authorize it through a vote. Tae Sung is based in the Cavite Economic Zone in Rosario, Cavite and produces metal parts for the supply chain of multinational companies like American Power Conversion-Schneider Electric, Honda, Mitsubishi, Caterpillar and Siemens.

“KEPCO and Tae Sung are crystal clear examples of how APEC has facilitated growth and profit for multinational corporations that operates across borders. And they also fully illustrate how workers have born the sacrifices for the phenomenal economic benefits that corporations have reaped due to APEC. Workers across APEC countries contend with low pay, contractual work and union suppression even as their labor created the doubling of real GDP within APEC between 1989 and 2013,” Magtubo ended.

November 20, 2015

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