Saturday, April 23, 2011

Workers picket against union busting in Davao City

Workers picket against union busting in Davao City*

April 21, 2011

Three hundred workers belonging to the Kahugpungan sa mga Trabahante sa Superstar (KTS) along with their families picketed the Superstar Coconut Products Inc. plant in Barangay Maa, Davao City on April 1 to condemn management's attempts to bust their union.

In particular, the workers are opposing the company's attempts to bribe their workers into agreeing to an early retirement scheme. The company offered as bribe P3,500 per month in separation pay (or an average of P29,000 per year) to entice the workers into retiring early. The company also spread rumors that it would be closing down its factory on April 9 to stop the laborers from reporting for work. When the day came, the company called in workers from its other factory in Butuan to continue its operations.

Most of the workers targeted by the company for early retirement are union members. The management has been angry at the union for having scored a string of victories since it was formed. The union has been able to assert the workers' rights despite their status as contractuals.

Since the union was organized in November 2010, it has actively struggled for the workers' rights and welfare. It was able to win a wage increase despite the company's claims that it was not the workers' direct employer but the agency that hired them. The workers were able to prove that the agency was a company dummy, thus compelling management to negotiate with them directly. In March 2011, the Department of Labor and Employment formally recognized the union and ordered the company to give the workers their rightful benefits.

In retaliation, the company resorted to the forcible retirement of the union members and stepped up repression not only within the factory but in the workers' communities as well.

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