July 31, 2009
The militant labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) argued that the continuing mass layoffs in the country and the labor unrest in Cebu expose the lie behind President Gloria Arroyo’s rosy claims about economic growth in her SONA last Monday. Renato Magtubo, PM chairperson, said, “The mass layoffs and labor unrest belie the SONA assertions about robust economic growth. Thousands of workers are unemployed with the closure of Triumph in Taguig and Celestica in Cebu. Also thousands of Cebuano workers of Exas, an electronics factory on temporary shutdown, have been out of work for four months while more are threatened with retrenchment in Taiyuden, another electronics firm also in Mactan Export Processing Zone I (MEPZ I).”
He also slammed Celestica, a Canadian-owned multinational electronics firm, for being a “heartless giant that throws its workers like rags after wringing all the value from them.” Magtubo added, “Celestica is a poster firm against revising the Constitution to allow foreign capital more rights in exploiting the natural and human resources of the country.”
This morning 39 agency workers of Celestica filed illegal dismissal cases against the company and claims for separation pay at the National Labor Relations Commission branch in Cebu. Romeo Moritcho, Jr., who led the agency workers, said “Since Celestica ignored our petition and did not respond to our protest, we are thus filing a case of illegal dismissal in order to claim the separation pay that is due us.”
More agency workers are expected to join the illegal dismissal case in the coming days. The agency workers are alleging that they are regular employees of Celestica since they have worked for several years at the company under the direction and control of Celestica management. They are demanding a termination pay of 45 days per year of service, similar to the separation package of regular workers of Celestica that is due to shutdown on August 31.
Yesterday around 50 workers picketed the MEPZ I gates and the office of Cebu General Services, the agency that contracts work for Celestica. In a dialogue yesterday between the protesting workers and representatives of the Philippine Export Zone Authority, the latter relayed a message from Celestica that management has already forwarded all the benefits due agency workers to Cebu General Services. The management of Celestica boycotted the dialogue. Later in a discussion with Cebu General Services during the picket, the agency claimed that they have not received a cent from Celestica for workers claims.
“Celestica and Cebu General Services are pointing at each other and neither is willing to come forward for its responsibilities to workers who have labored for years to make this multinational a US$8 billion company as of 2008. But the truth is that Celestica is our principal employer since Cebu General Services is simply a labor-only contractor. Cebu General does not own substantial capital in the form of tools and equipment, and does not exercise control and supervision over our work inside Celestica,” explained Moritcho, Jr.