February 18, 2010
The displaced workers of Alta Mode Inc., a garments factory in the Mactan Economic Zone (MEZ) II and subcontractor for global brands such as Abercrombie & Fitch, boycotted the disbursement of a separation package scheduled today. “We will not accept a separation package from Alta Mode. We do not accept their alibi that the company losing. The fight against union busting continues,” stated Renante Pelino, president of Alta Mode Workers Union (AMWU).
The top three officers of AMWU went to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) office in Cebu City this morning to announce the union’s position. Representatives of management, including the head of the human resources department, presided over the release of the separation package. Only 15 contractual workers and office employees of Alta Mode accepted, none of whom were union members.
Pelino challenged the representatives of Alta Mode management to attend the second mediation meeting schedule for tomorrow. Management boycotted the first mediation hearing last Monday. “We want management to face the workers and explain the real reason behind the planned closure on March 15. We do not believe that the company is in the red. Closure is just a last desperate attempt to bust the union,” argued Pelino.
Meanwhile the labor party-list group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) proclaimed that they are organizing solidarity for the Alta Mode workers. Renato Magtubo, PM national chairperson, said that “Support from fellow workers in the Philippines and abroad is forthcoming to the embattled workers of Alta Mode. We are even canvassing solidarity from concerned candidates in the elections who have the guts to stand beside the brave Alta Mode workers.”
AMWU is demanding that the workers be accepted back to work. The rest of the 91 workers of Alta Mode are all members of AMWU. Pelino added that “Our doubts about management’s claims of losses grow stronger while they refuse to hold a dialogue with the workers. All the workers have received was a written notice about the closure. Since the picket line was set up, no one from Alta Mode management has faced the workers.”
Since Monday, February 15, 2010, AMWU has protested outside the main gates of the MEZ II after workers were refused entry and not allowed to go to work. The following day, they set up camp at the MEZ gates in order to oblige the Alta Mode management to dialogue with the union. But the very next day, security guards of the export zone tried unsuccessfully to force them out of the privately-owned land of Acoland, lessor of the MEZ II.