July 30, 2009
Some 50 agency workers of Celestica, the big electronics firm at the Mactan Export Processing Zone I (MEPZ I) that is due to shutdown on August 31, today held a protest to demand termination pay similar to that will be received by regular employees. “Many of the less than 300 agency workers employed by Celestica have worked for several years doing the same work as regular employees, and under the control and direction of company management. By law and jurisprudence we are employees not of our agency, Cebu General Services, but of the principal, Celestica. Thus we deserve the same treatment and benefits as regular workers,” argued Romeo Moritcho, Jr., a leader of the protesting agency workers.
The agency workers did not report from work today and instead marched starting at 10 a.m. from Gate 1 to Gate 3 MEPZ I and then held a picket till noon. By 1 p.m. they trooped to the office of Cebu General Services at A. S. Fortuna, Mandaue City for another picket.
The contracts of the agency workers are to be terminated by Celestica on Friday and the Cebu General Services promises to redeploy them to new jobs at Pentax, which however is accepting only workers younger than 28 years while all the agency workers are above 30 years old. The agency workers are insisting that they receive the separation pay of 45 days per year of service to be given to regular Celestica workers.
The agency workers submitted a petition to Celestica management Thursday last week about their demands but the latter did not respond thus precipitating the protest today. Moritcho elaborated that “Filipino workers cannot be thrown out like rags by a giant multinational that generated almost US$8 billion in revenues last year after benefiting from our labor for many years on the superficial argument that we are the responsibility of our local agency. The ‘control test’ used in labor law jurisprudence makes us direct employees of Celestica not Cebu General Services which is in effect a labor-only contractor.”
Dennis Derige of Partido ng Manggagawa is appealing to Celestica to abide by its own “corporate social responsibility” and the Electronics Industry Code of Conduct (EICC). He added, “We are asking Celestica to follow its own statements. Craig Muhlhauser, Celestica President and Chief Executive Officer, said ‘Protecting and empowering people. Respecting the environment. Giving back to the community. Working with responsible partners. Our commitment to corporate social responsibility is pervasive in all we do.’ Also the EICC specifies that ‘Compensation paid to workers shall comply with all applicable wage laws, including those relating to minimum wages, overtime hours and legally mandated benefits.’ Agency workers deserve no more and no less than what are stipulated in these codes that Celestica bound itself to abide by.”