Workers at a Kohl’s supplier in the biggest export zone in the Philippines are complaining of management interference in the exercise of their freedom of association. The newly formed workers union at Daegyoung Apparel Inc. is calling on Kohl’s to remediate the violations of their supplier in line with their code of conduct.
The workers of Daegyoung formed a union in April with the aim of resolving workplace grievances such as low pay, lack of benefits, precarious work and violation of labor standards. As soon as management learned of the formation of the union, supervisors and line leaders started talking to workers to withdraw support from the union or desist from enlisting with the union.
Workers were threatened that the company will shutdown if the union pushes through. At the start, management personnel blatantly asked workers to sign anti-union statements at the production lines. Management personnel also openly held a town hall meeting in the factory canteen and repeated the threat of a factory closure. Later, workers were asked to go in pairs to management offices where they were subjected to anti-union propaganda.
In response to management’s union busting maneuvers, the union filed for preventive mediation with the Labor Department. Nothing was resolved in the first hearing. Another hearing is set this week.
The union has also filed a petition for certification elections and in the proceedings, management submitted it opposition and offered separation pay to workers—moves which evidently tie in with the company’s union busting scheme.
Korean-owned Daegyoung employs some 1,000 workers, mostly women. Workers estimate that around 80% of the production is earmarked for Kohl’s. The factory is located in the Cavite Economic Zone in the industrial town of Rosario, Cavite.