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September 9, 2005

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Lepanto Strike settles with MOA

The labor strike in the leading gold mining firm in the country ended with the signing of a memorandum of agreement between the leaders of the Lepanto Employees Union (LEU) and the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMCo) that settles the 92-day strike on September 4, 2005.

The MOA materialized from the last bout of negotiation between the two parties was on September 3 and 4, 2005 that was held in Makati City.

It was stipulated in the MOA that the LEPANTO EMPLOYEES UNION (LEU) and the MANAGEMENT OF LEPANTO CONSOLIDATED MINING COMPANY (LCMC), recognizing the need to establish and foster industrial peace and unhampered operations and promote productivity.
It was agreed upon that:

1. The nineteen (19) officers of the LEU hereby acknowledge and accept their severance from service and may exercise their rights under the law.

2. All other dismissed LEU members who have been dismissed by reason of or in relation to the strike shall be reinstated back to work under the same terms and conditions prior to the strike.

3. All other LEU members shall upon signing of this agreement immediately report for work under the same terms and conditions prior to the strike.

4. The LEU shall not take any action that would violate the industrial peace and the LCMC shall not take any retaliatory actions against the LEU members who will be reinstated back to work.

5. Both parties shall take active steps to promote industrial harmony and increased productivity and shall regularly meet for this purpose.

6. All pending criminal and labor cases filed by one party against the other by reason or on account of or in relation to the strike shall be withdrawn or its dismissal effected.

7. That the present officers shall continue to discharge their functions until their successors shall have taken their oath.

8. That both parties shall agree to conclude the 23rd Bargaining Agreement which started last November 2004 and ended in a deadlock in May 2005.

Ninian Lang-agan, president of the Lepanto Employees Union disclosed that the officers went through a very difficult, tough and emotional process in coming up with a last option to consider “in order to save the whole membership of the union”.

“I would like to assure the whole membership of LEU and our families that we have not sold the union. The termination of the union officers does not mean defeat. This is a new phase of renewed commitment to face the challenges ahead. We have been together in this struggle for more than three months; we have built stronger unity among us. But we have to come up with this heartrending decision of sacrificing the union officers’ employment for the sake of the majority.” Lang-agan lamented.

Lang-agan added that “we are thankful to the Kilusang Mayo Uno and to all those who have extended their moral, financial and material support to us during the time that we are in dire need.”

Meanwhile, militant labor center, Kilusang Mayo Uno in a statement “commends the 19 officers of the LEU who selflessly sacrificed for the interest of the majority. They did this for the sole intention of saving the union and uplifting the economic and working conditions of the mineworkers and their families.”

KMU furthers that “in spite of the difficult situation in the picket lines, including harassments, threats, intimidations and other pressure they received from the company in the duration of the strike, we salute the officers and members of the union who stood firm their grounds in defense of their labor and political rights. The oppressed situation of mineworkers in the company had unified the workers into a more militant labor union.”

In the course of the 3-month strike, LEU recorded 20 violent dispersals, 24 arbitrary arrests and detention and 4 cases of abducted inflicted by upon by the PNP’s Task Force Lepanto who were deployed supposedly to maintain peace and orders. Warrant of arrests were issued to at least 7 workers and supporters to the strike.

The company and the union filed criminal charges and counter-charges to each other due to alleged coercion, direct assault on the part of the company and alleged human rights violations against the company and the PNP on the part of the union.

It will be recalled that the labor union filed a notice of strike at the office of the National Mediation and Conciliation Board-Cordillera Administrative Region on April 5 on the basis of a deadlock in their collective bargaining negotiations after series of negotiations that went futile as the company denied some of the CBA proposals of the union moreover regarding the salary increases of the workers for 2005 to 2007.

On April 20, the union conducted a strike vote referendum where 95% of the membership agreed to strike. Series of conciliation meetings were conducted in an attempt to resolve the dispute but both parties failed to reach any agreement. The union staged their strike in the morning of June 2. ###

Kilusang Mayo Uno-Cordillera
09 September 2005

The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) and the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU)-Cordillera extends its utmost thanks to all individuals, organizations, and institutions in the country and abroad who extended their support (financial, moral, and political; pressure letters to concerned agencies and individuals, letters of support) to the Lepanto Employees Union and their families in their strike for basic rights from June 2 to September 11, 2005. Your invaluable support and solidarity helped sustain the workers in their struggle, and beyond. Once more, our thanks and appreciation from the CPA and KMU-Cordillera.

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