Monday, December 30, 2019

Press Release: Cavite workers call on Congress to investigate ecozone investors

Workers embroiled in a labor dispute in a Korean-owned factory in Cavite called on Congress to investigate violations of workers’ rights and labor standards by foreign investors in economic zones. The demand by workers of Sejung Apparel Inc. coincided with a solidarity visit this morning by Sen. Risa Hontiveros to their picketline.

“When foreign investors violate our labor laws with impunity, then Filipino workers are second-class citizens in our own land. We ask Congress to make incentives to foreign investors conditional on their respect for workers’ rights,” asserted Josephine Odchimar, union president.

The proposed Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Act (CITIRA) removes incentives to foreign investors in ecozones. The Department of Finance and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority are openly debating the provisions of the bill. Labor groups on the other hand take an independent position and ask that incentives be tied to labor rights.

Odchimar added that “We welcome Sen. Risa and her staff to our picketline which has served as our home for the holidays. Similar to the story of Jesus being born in a lowly manger, we spent Christmas in a humble picketline.”

Sejung workers are demanding the release of the mandated 13th month pay, the latest salary due workers, a stop to the removal of machines and an end to the outsourcing of production to other factories.

Meanwhile the labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) slammed the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for lack of action in enforcing labor standards at Sejung.

“December 24 has come and gone but the DOLE still refuses to use it powers to enforce the payment of wages and 13th month pay for workers of a ‘Grinch’ company. While DOLE officials in the national and regional offices are enjoying their happy holidays, Sejung workers had a sad Christmas and are facing a bleak New Year since labor standards are not being enforced,” declared Rene Magtubo, PM national chair.

Odchimar explained that DOLE had already conducted a factory inspection last December 19 and promised to issue an order if management does not release the 13th month pay on December 24 as mandated. However, she added that DOLE did not issue an order and instead is trying to schedule another inspection.

“Justice delayed is justice denied. What’s keeping the DOLE regional office from issuing a compliance order? Even during the mediation hearings, Sejung maintained its illegal and hardline stance that it will grant the 13th month pay in March not December. Yet the DOLE dare not lift a finger even as Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello issued press releases reminding employers about the payment of the 13th month benefit,” Magtubo averred.

December 30, 2019

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