Miners protest work rotation scheme

BAGUIO CITY — Miners, their wives and other community members Thursday assailed Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company’s (LCMCo) new policy of reduced working days, which calls for a work rotation scheme in a a protest rally in front of the company’s general office in Mankayan.

Spearheaded by the Lepanto Employees’ Union-NAFLU-Kilusang Mayo Uno (LEU-NAFLU-KMU) the protest action demanded the mining firm to retract its order for a reduction of working days for its employees.

Lepanto management released a notice to its workers on October 27 announcing its plan to reduce the working days to 20 per month with the implementation of the work rotation scheme for all its surface employees and about 119 underground employees supposed effective November 1.

The company’s reason for the reduction of work days is its low production and eventual losses it may incur.

Atty. Ana C. Dione, regional director of the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) Cordillera said during the weekly Kapihan sa Baguio, she has received an informal report from the mining company about its plans for the reduced workdays.

“Lepanto would be undergoing reduced workdays because according to them the price of copper in the global market went down,” said Dione. She added some workers hoped the said scheme would only last for three months to prevent a massive financial effect on them.

According to Dione, this could be an effect of the global financial crisis.

Aside from Lepanto, DoLE also reported one occasion of termination in one of the sub-contractors of Texas Instrument (TI) in the export processing zone in Loakan, due to the financial crisis.

“Other than that, we have not received any other report, but our office is now undergoing a heightened monitoring on possible effects of the global crisis to the local industries specifically here in the region,” added Dione.

Meanwhile, Lepanto employees who were frustrated in having a dialog with the company’s management, are planning to stage a series of protest actions against the said scheme and other unfair labor practices of the company.

The reduced workday scheme prompted LEU to hold a general membership assembly on October 31.

“This is a gross violation of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and comprises an unfair labor practice,” said LEU Chairperson Manuel Binhaon during the rally.

Lepanto reportedly failed to remit some P52.2 million social security contributions and loan payments and another P3.2 million employees premiums in a government housing fund. It has also neglected the payment of backwages since November last year.

“The company uses diversionary tactics to evade its financial obligations to workers,” Bihaon said. # Cye Reyes(NorDis)

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