Monday, April 13, 2020

Workers ask gov’t to reopen factory to make facemasks

Sejung factory gate is padlocked on April 10, 2020

Workers of a garments firm that has been shuttered for the past four months are asking the government to reopen the factory to produce facemasks. Sejung Apparel Inc., a Korean-owned firm in the First Cavite Industrial Estate (FCIE) in Dasmarinas, was shutdown in December last year.

“The Bayanihan Act gave the government the power to direct the operations of a company to respond to the covid pandemic. Thus we demand that 315 Sejung employees be put back to working to make PPE’s that are desperately needed at this time,” stated Jopay Odchimar, president of the labor union of Sejung workers.

She added that “We want to help others even as we lift ourselves by our own efforts. The government should not think twice about our appeal to reopen the factory and retool it for making washable facemasks.”

Last April 10, officials of the FCIE padlocked the factory gates.

The DOLE has rejected the application for assistance to Sejung workers since the factory shutdown was not due to the covid quarantine. Ironically, the Sejung workers are also not qualified for the social amelioration for informal workers since they are technically still employed by the company.

Sejung workers have been embroiled in a long-running dispute since last year. The labor dispute is due to non-payment of 13th month pay, last salary and union busting.

Sejung declared temporary shutdowns several times. The first shutdown in October last year occurred just one week after the union submitted a collective bargaining proposal and just three weeks after the union won a certification election. The company reopened but once more closed in December 12 and has remained shutdown since then.

“For more than four months, the DOLE provincial and regional offices did not act on a clear case of labor standards violation despite undertaking an inspection in December 19. The case has dragged on for so long that the covid pandemic and the resulting quarantine further aggravated the sufferings of workers,” Odchimar explained.

April 13, 2020

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