Workers of a garments factory in the Cavite ecozone went on strike yesterday morning in response to the mass termination of 16 union officers. However the picketline setup by workers was torn down by an official of the Cavite ecozone administration and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) police.
“We condemn the harassment by Cavite industrial relations officer Mr. Lindon and the head of PEZA police, a certain Mr. dela Cruz, of the legal strike by Dong Seung workers. Just like during the strike by women workers of the electronics company Lakepower Converter last December, PEZA is actively suppressing the right of workers to peaceful concerted activities. These are gross violations of the Joint DOLE-PNP-PEZA Guidelines in the Conduct of Security Personnel During Labor Disputes,” declared Dennis Sequena, coordinator of the Cavite chapter of Partido Manggagawa (PM), which is assisting the striking workers.
The strike continues today with scores of Dong Seung workers conducting a roving picket. This morning, PEZA police once more harassed the striking workers and prohibited their use of a megaphone while conducting a protest program in front of the Dong Seung factory gate. Members of the union are also being stopped and prevented from entering the Cavite ecozone.
Last April 27, Dong Seung workers and their supporters trooped to the Cavite ecozone main gate to protest the union busting and call for respect for freedom of association. The rally followed a forum in which Cavite ecozone workers aired their grievances about low pay, insecure jobs, verbal harassment and excessive work quotas.
The Dong Seung union officers were served notices of termination in their houses by an HR officer of the company last April 12. They were supposed to back to work on April 13 as part of the agreement. An earlier strike notice was precipitated by the one-month suspension of the 16 union officers.
“The firing of all 16 union officers, including the union president, was the latest in a series of union busting moves by management. Moreover it is a maneuver done in bad faith as the union just withdrew a notice of strike earlier filed. The retraction of the strike was part of an agreement mediated by the Labor Department wherein workers will be accepted back to work after an investigation by management,” explained Juanito Diaz, president of the Dong Seung Workers Union-Independent.
Dong Seung Inc. is a Korean-owned apparel manufacturer inside the Cavite Economic Zone, the country’s biggest government-run export processing estate. It manufactures garments for global brands Macy’s and Ann Taylor. Dong Seung workers are asking Macy’s and Ann Taylor to remediate the code of conduct violations of its supplier.
Diaz declared that “Tama na. Sobra na. Oras na para igalang ang karapatang mag-unyon para mapabuti ang kalagayan ng mga manggagawa. Workers in the Cavite ecozone are organizing to improve their wages and working conditions but the response of companies is to bust unions and harass workers.”
The union had filed a petition for certification elections in the company last December. Immediately after, the union alleged that management started harassing officers and members. Unionists were denied loans or were forced to withdraw support for the union in return for access to loans. Union leaders were transferred to different production lines and a union officer was demoted from mechanic to sewer.
Then in the latter part of March, management suspended for 30 days all union officers on the pretext that they smeared the company by seeking action from the factory customers regarding violations of freedom of association and labor standards.
May 12, 2018