the workers, coddling the employers
— In cases of struggle between labor and profit, it is not
hard to understand why government institutions like the Department
of Labor and Employment (DOLE) sides mostly with the more privileged
entity. Such is the case at the Lepanto labor dispute, where the
toiling workers are ensnared in situations instigated by the DoLE
itself. But situations like these also prompt workers to strengthen
their ranks, thus, all is not lost in their battle, as DoLE and
company management perceives it to be.
management’s claims, the negotiations are not over. And while
DoLE takes part in these negotiations, it openly endorses Lepanto’s
job recruitment, in the obvious attempt to dishearten the workers
and break their determination to carry on with the strike. The recruitment
takes place not only Mankayan even in Baguio City, such as in the
office of the NBI, with the DoLE as the undersigned agency. That
is stabbing the workers at the back.
Manager Ernesto Laoagan even became an instant TV personality by
appearing in stolen airtime from the GMA 7, making statements against
the union officers. Laoagan attempts to break the union by creating
intrigues to cause rift between the officers and members.
The June 25
march-rally here disproved company’ propaganda that some 80%
of the workers already want to return to work. The 3,000-strong
mobilization, with supporters from nearby provinces and communities,
will be a living testament to it.
Atty. Weldy Manlong made a mistake when he tried to argue with the
workers’ statement that without the miners, there would be
no LCMCo. Surely, technical people would ensure the technical aspects.
Yet he misses out on the point that the miners are the production
force, with the labor skills they have. Manlong threatens the workers
of a closure if Lepanto gives in to the workers’ demands,
having the gut to foresee that the company will suffer heavy losses.
Yet the workers know better than be deceived by cheap talk. With
the company’s expansion applications and investors, a closure
in that context is not realistic — Lepanto is one of the leading
gold producers in the world and in Southeast Asia.
took place on June 25 between LEU and Lepanto at the governor’s
office, company security chief Wilhelm Doromal went around the picketlines
announcing that the negotiations are over and that the union officers
have already given in to the management. Doromal also ordered his
men to prevent union officials and members from going to the picketlines
and delivering supplies during the negotiations some union officials
and members going to visit and deliver food supplies to the their
colleagues in the picket lines for no reasons.
At the same
negotiation, company management refused LEU’s proposal that
a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on the reinstatement of dismissed
officers and members be entered into, including a commitment that
Lepanto will not execute retaliatory actions after the strike. Here,
a joint manifestation was reached, where
both parties agreed that the gates leading to the four picket lines
at Tubo, Nayak, Buaki and Mill Site shall remain open for union
officers to freely consult and coordinate with their members. It
was also stated in the manifestation that both parties are free
to convince and persuade union members who are willing or not to
return to work.
It was also
agreed that there should be no intimidation, harassment or misinterpretation
in convincing union members relating to the issues involved. But
as this was being negotiated, management personnel were already
roaming around the workers’ bunkhouses and residences misinforming
the workers and the people of Mankayan that the negotiation between
the management and the union had arrived into a settlement and the
strike is over.
In the face of the harassment and intimidation perpetrated by the
management in connivance with the PNP under Col. Ernesto Gaab, the
DoLE keeps mum about it. Instead of looking into the betterment
of the much-aggrieved workers of Lepanto, DoLE, in the person of
its Regional Director Jalilo de la Torre, upon the orders of DoLE
Sec. Patricia Sto. Tomas blatantly sided with the company by issuing
such return to work orders.
The LCMC, DOLE, PNP and the AFP are all but collaborating to suppress
the workers’ struggle to pursue their just and legitimate
rights. With this, they have earned the ire and condemnation not
only of the people of Mankayan but other sectors aware of the basis
of the workers’ strike.
FOR A JUST AND REASONABLE COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT!
EXPOSE AND OPPOSE THE COLLABORATION BETWEEN THE LCMC, DOLE, PNP
ADVANCE GENUINE, MILITANT, AND NATIONALIST UNIONISM!
LONG LIVE THE WORKERS!
LONG LIVE THE UNITED WORKERS AND PEOPLE OF MANKAYAN!
Public Information Commission
Cordillera Labor Center