February 4, 2009
The striking workers of the Giardini del Sole furniture factory in Mandaue City called on the Catholic bishops for support in pushing for their demand for work rotation instead of forced leave. The first ever strike against layoffs since the onset of the present crisis entered its second day today with operations at the factory still paralyzed as strikers maintained a roving picket.
“We appeal to CBCP president Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, CBCP committee on public affairs head Bishop Deogracias Iniguez and Archdiocese of Manila social services ministry head Bishop Broderick Pabillo to speak for workers rights and displaced workers. We are giving the good bishops due notice that abusive employers are exploiting the crisis to subvert labor standards and workers rights,” stated Primitivo Ginoo, Jr., president of the Nagkahiusang Puwersa nga Mamumuo sa Giardini (NPMG), the union at the Giardini del Sole.
Renato Magtubo, chair of Partido ng Manggagawa, concurred with the criticism of the Giardini del Sole workers, saying that “Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Edgardo Lacson’s demand to reduce the number of holidays and remove the holiday premium is the signal fire in capital’s war against labor amidst the crisis. The employers will be using the global crisis as a sharp knife to tear to shreds the already tattered safety nets and labor standards that protect workers.”
The NPMG went on strike yesterday on the basis of union busting, alleging that management is using the impact of the crisis as an excuse to dismiss all union officers and members. “In several weeks of hearings at the National Conciliation and Mediation Board, management maintained its hardline position against allowing union members to return to work on a job-sharing scheme,” Ginoo elaborated.
Eulito Fin Jr., vice president of NPMG, reiterated that “We are more than willing to lift the strike but only if as many workers as possible are allowed to return to work. We would like to work again at Giardini del Sole but only with our heads held up not bowed down.”
The CBCP bishops had last week expressed it support to the call for an employment summit to help address the problems of Filipino workers affected by the global crisis. Aside from appealing for support from the bishops, Fin also expressed his appreciation for the solidarity they have received. He asserted that “The messages of support, the contributions of food and the physical presence of fellow Cebuano workers sustain us in our fight. This is a struggle for all workers and we can win it only with the solidarity of the labor movement.”