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June 2, 2005

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Lepanto Mineworkers on Strike

Around 7 o’clock in the morning today, June 2, 2005, the 1,700-strong rank and file members of the Lepanto Employees Union (LEU) trooped to the different entry gates to the premises of the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMC) not to report to work but to man their picket lines. Work operations in the undergrounds and surface grounds of the mining firm totally stopped as the mineworkers declared a strike and assemble their picket lines in at least five gates of the mines.

Ninian Lang-agan, the union president said that they put up their pickets at Tubo Gate, Nayak, Buaki, Mill site and at the 900 level. He said that 100% of the union’s membership participated in their concerted action. They are also joined by hundreds of the women and other community people who earlier marched the streets of Lepanto to Mankayan proper in support of the workers’ struggle.

The strike of the mineworkers resulted following a deadlock in their collective bargaining negotiations last month. Lang-agan said they already exhausted all avenues to resolve the deadlock issues on wages and other benefits but both parties failed to reach an agreement. Both parties have been conducting conciliation meeting even after the union’s declaration of deadlock on April 2.

Among the deadlock items in their negotiations are the union’s demand for a wage increase of P29 for the first year, P29 for the second year and another P33 for the third of their CBA. The management’s offer is P21, P26 and P28 spread out in three years. Other demands not resolved include housing allowance, rest leave and separation pay.

It will be recalled that an assumption of jurisdiction order from labor secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas was issued on May 10 purposefully to avert any form of strike or lock out stating the mining activities of the company is indispensable to national interest. Some 85 members of the 54th Infantry Battalion were earlier deployed in Lepanto by the management of the mining firm’s request and are posted within the mining premises.

But despite the assumption of jurisdiction order and the deployment of military and para-military groups in the area, the workers are adamant to pursue on their strike not unless their demands will be heard by the company. ### Leonida E. Tundagui

Published with financial contribution from the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation
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