Lepanto unions oppose work suspension

BAGUIO CITY — Three labor unions in a giant mining firm and its subsidiaries are opposing the implementation of a planned work suspension and work stoppage.

According to the unions, this measure will mean wage cuts and a threat to the workers’ security of tenure. The workers also demanded for the immediate payment of their unpaid earned wages. The management had been delaying release of wages for months now.

The Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMCo) planned to implement on November 1, 2008 a work rotation scheme for all surface workers and some 119 underground workers belonging to the Lepanto Employees Union-NAFLU-KMU.

On the other hand, work operations of the Shipside, Incorporated, the Paramina and the Diamond Drilling Company of the Philippines have been suspended causing the indefinite work leave-without pay of hundreds of workers. These companies are owned largely by the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company.

Leading the workforce, the Lepanto Employees Union-NAFLU-KMU submitted to the company a letter demanding the non-implementation the work rotation scheme; the company’s labor cost program guidelines and implementation.

Earlier, the labor unions complained of several violations of their labor rights which included: non-remittance of their social benefit contributions to the Social Security System, the Philhealth and Pag-Ibig that amounts to millions of pesos since 2006, this preventing the workers to avail of loans and other benefits due them; partial releases of already delayed wages; non-compliance of the management to some provisions of their collective bargaining agreement; and illegal dismissal of officers and members of the Shipside Employees Union-NAFLU-KMU.

The labor center, Kilusang Mayo Uno-Cordillera expressed strong criticism to this schemes by management.

They also said that the company did not comply to the agreement signed between them and the unions. The company agreed to pay at least P10 million monthly for unremitted SSS contributions that shall start on July 2008. They also agreed to pay the workers their back wages from the implementation of the collective bargaining agreement starting November 2007. But none of these were complied with.

“This scheme being implemented by the Lepanto company is a trend towards the contractualization of labor and eventually busting the labor unions. This is an outright attack against the growing number of genuine trade unions in the region,” said Manuel Binhaon, president of the LEU-NAFLU-KMU.

“We are no longer in a slave-master society. The Lepanto company should recognize the employer-employee relationship that has requisites, terms and conditions they have agreed on,” said Binhaon. # Leonida E. Tundagi (NorDis)

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