Security guards contracted by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) joined surprise attacks on a picketline at the Cavite Economic Zone that resulted in injuries to two women workers. Maricar Orque and Magdalena Peña, both workers of Lakepower Converter Inc., a Taiwanese-owned electronics company, were hurt in the commotion that followed the dismantling of the picketline around 11:30 pm last night. The workers union and the group Partido Manggagawa (PM) slammed the PEZA for conniving with management in four separate instances of violent harassment of the strike.
“Company guards, personnel of the Jantro Security Agency hired by PEZA and other men wearing ski masks but clad in PEZA police uniforms repeatedly tore down placards and makeshift tents at the picketline last night and early morning. They first attacked at 7:00 pm, again at 11:30 pm, once more at 1:00 am and finally at 5:00 am. The men arrived in motorcycles and bearing side arms. Two of the motorcycles used had plate numbers DA 21752 and DC 86314,” explained Mercy Tanginan, president of the Samahan ng Manggagawa sa Lakepower Converter Inc.
The strike at Lakepower started at 3:00 pm yesterday after mediation meetings convened by the National Conciliation and Mediation Board collapsed as management refused workers demands that the termination and suspension of union officers and members be stopped.
Tanginan added that “A PEZA firetruck along with Jantro guards went to the picketline area. The Jantro also set up barricades at two points leading to the factory and refused entry to workers going to the picketline.”
Rene Magtubo, PM national chair, declared that “All these are violations of the DOLE-PEZA-PNP Guidelines on the Conduct of Personnel During Labor Disputes. We hold the PEZA and Atty. Norma Tañag, administrator ng Cavite ecozone, responsible for the violent attacks on the women workers strike. Aside from the direct involvement of PEZA police, firefighters and Jantro guards in the harassment and attacks, PEZA has administrative control of the ecozone and is liable for such repeated incidents of violence.”
Unrest has festered at Lakepower for the last few months. Among workers grievances is the removal of the door of the women’s restroom so that the company can spy on workers. Almost all of the 200 workers in the factory are women. They are also outraged at the unreasonable limits on the use of the restroom which has led to cases of workers suffering from urinary tract infection. Workers are also complaining of excessive quota and the exclusion of unionists from receiving Christmas packages.
Last November 16, the Lakepower workers held a protest at the Cavite ecozone against company abuses. The protest was the third such picket over the last month at the country’s biggest export processing zone. Earlier, garments workers held protest actions against “factory shutdown-cum-union busting.” After two protests and a strike threat, the union leaders at the Korean-owned garments factory Sein Together Phils. Inc. were eventually accepted back to work.
“Workers are unionizing to improve their working conditions but are being met by extreme interference from capitalists unwilling to share the fruits of production,” asserted Magtubo.
December 8, 2017