Workers of a garments firm in the Mactan Economic Zone in Cebu have voted overwhelmingly to go on strike. Members of the labor union at the First Glory Philippines voted 103 yes with none against in a strike poll conducted yesterday. A meeting has been called by the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) this afternoon to avert an actual strike.
“First Glory management has taken a hardline position in all of the mediation meetings called by the Philippine Export Zone Authority and the NCMB despite being unable to substantiate its claim of losses. We demand that First Glory reinstate all 300 workers that were retrenched as this was done in bad faith and for the purpose of busting the newly-formed union,” declared Cristito Pangan, president of First Glory labor union.
The First Glory factory has been embroiled in a labor dispute since it fired some 300 workers last November 27. The next day, the workers staged a march inside the Mactan ecozone that ended with a program at the MEPZ gate. Then a rally of terminated First Glory workers last November 30 was broken up by police and led to the arrest of Pangan and four labor organizers. The so-called MEPZ 5 were later released as their cases for “disobedience to person in authority” were dismissed.
The firings at First Glory comes on the heels of mass layoffs at other garment firms in the Mactan ecozone since August. The Sports City group of companies retrenched 4,000 workers, Yuenthai fired 2000 workers, FCO International laid off 100 workers and Kor Landa dismissed 67 workers including union officers.
Most of the dismissed First Glory workers were union members, including all of the officers and the president. The union’s petition for certification election has been granted by the Department of Labor and Employment. Petitions for certification election have also been granted by the DOLE to unions in three factories of the Sports City group of companies.
Pangan insisted that “First Glory management is using losses due to lost orders as its alibi for retrenchment. However, its main customer has already exited from bankruptcy in September. Further, production is in full swing and workers are asked to report for duty even on holidays and Sunday.”
“The labor dispute at First Glory is symptomatic of the epidemic of labor rights violations during the time of covid. Employers are exploiting the covid-19 crisis to bust unions and shift to contract work. Aside from First Glory, this also revealed by the shutdown of the Arcya Glass factory in Laguna,” Pangan averred. Arcya Glass workers have setup a picketline outside the factory in Calamba.
December 23, 2020