June 29, 2009
Hundreds of workers from around a dozen unions and associations in Metro Cebu held a “Day of Solidarity” for the embattled workers of Keppel shipyard and Paul Yu, a lamp shade factory inside the Mactan Export Processing Zone. Some 300 workers trooped to the picketline of the striking Keppel union and held a program from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. today.
“The day of solidarity is an opportunity for Cebuano workers to express their support and sympathy to fellow laborers who are in the midst of disputes and struggles against capitalists who are using the crisis as an alibi to demolish workers rights and undercut labor standards. We consider the fight of Keppel and Paul Yu workers as our own fight. An injury to one is an injury to all,” declared Greg Janginon, president of the Prince Warehouse union and Partido ng Manggagawa chairperson for Cebu.
The Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Baradero (NMB) Keppel Shipyard-National Federation of Labor (NFL) has been on strike since June 19 after charging management of union busting. Meanwhile Paul Yu management has suspended more than 300 after one week of protests in support of seven leaders who had earlier been suspended. Roger Igot, president of the Keppel union, and Willy Dondoyano, head of the Paul Yu Workers Association, thanked the workers who attended the day of solidarity. “We can only succeed in our struggle on the strength of the militancy of the workers and the solidarity of the labor movement,” Igot averred.
The online campaign of the Paul Yu union has generated massive sympathy worldwide with more than a thousand supporters from more than 20 countries sending letters of protest through email to the management with copies furnished to the DOLE and PEZA. Paul Yu exports its lamp shades mainly to the US and Europe market. Those are the same areas where the Paul Yu workers have inspired support with hundreds of unionists and allies sending emails from the US, Canada, United Kingdom and Australia.
Dondoyano stated that “We appreciate the support from fellow Cebuano workers and unionists from abroad. This outpouring of solidarity encourages us to continue with the fight.” A hearing was held this morning at the NCMB with management offering to terminate the protesting workers and pay them P3,000 per year of service. The offer is below the standards set by the Labor Code which in cases of companies that are not suffering serious losses must grant their workers a month’s pay per year of service. The Paul Yu workers refused management’s offer.
Workers from Altamode, SAWO, Giardini, Prince Warehouse, Neostone, General Milling Corp., Lami Foods and members of PM participated in the day of solidarity. A series of speakers spoke of the workers demands against layoffs, reduction of work days, contractualization and violations of labor standards as common grievances of workers inside and outside the export zone. The workers vowed to continue with more solidarity activities and mass actions until the Keppel and Paul Yu disputes are resolved.