Cavite Export Processing Zone:
Violent Dispersals, Food Blockade vs Strikers
Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) has enforced a wave of violent dispersals
and food blockade against on-strike garment factory workers within
the 276-hectare Cavite Export Processing Zone (CEPZ) in Rosario town in
Cavite, leaving scores wounded and with almost nothing to eat.
BY DENNIS ESPADA
The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA)
has enforced a wave of violent dispersals and food blockade against
on-strike garment factory workers within the 276-hectare Cavite Export
Processing Zone (CEPZ) in Rosario town in Cavite (25 kms. south of
Manila), leaving scores wounded and with almost nothing to eat.
Checkpoints, blacklisting and confiscation
of IDs and zone passes were also set up near the picket lines.
Last Sept. 25, over 300 workers of
Korean-owned Chong Won Fashion Inc. and Phils. Jeon Garments Inc.
simultaneously launched their strike due to the managements' refusal to
negotiate a first collective bargaining agreement with their unions
despite being certified as "sole and exclusive bargaining agent" by the
Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE).
Officers and staff members of the Workers’
Assistance Center (WAC), a church-based non-government organization, said
that at least ten strikers were badly hurt on the first assault by the
PEZA police and Jantro security guards, which took place shortly after the
workers erected the picket line at Chong Won's gates. They said the
assailants were escorting scabs inside the factory to replace the strikers
and run the production lines.
During the Sept. 27 attacks, 22 Chong Won
strikers were punched and beaten up with wooden clubs in the morning while
13 from Phils. Jeon were mauled in the evening, two of whom sustained head
WAC also reported the victims, mostly
women, complained being sexually-molested and suspected those who attacked
them were "high on illegal drugs."
The next day, Rosario police arrested
without warrant and illegally detained members of the militant labor group
Solidarity of Cavite Workers (SCW), namely Rodel Amo, Josephine Bajar,
Annalou Estremos, Gemma Lape, Glaiza Leysi, Lorna Reli, Ivy Villasan and
Pablito Zapanta who were caught storing food for the strikers inside a
WAC researcher Cecille Tuico told
Bulatlat that although the eight were freed on Oct. 4, they still
continue to face "trespassing" and "inciting to sedition" charges. Their
captors also took away their sack of rice, mobile phones, cameras and
other personal belongings, she said.
Mocking the law
Chong Won produces T-shirts, ladies
blouses, polo shirts, pants/jog pants, sleepwear and other clothes. Among
their buyers is U.S. retail giant Wal-Mart.
Phil. Jeon, meanwhile, is producing
apparel and undergarments for firms such as Al Assel and Zico in Saudi
Arabia, CNI in the U.S. and Dream Station in Japan.
The aggrieved workers held an indignation
rally on Oct. 2 in front of the PEZA main office in Pasay City. In a joint
statement signed by union presidents Resureccion Ravelo of the
Nagkakaisang Manggagawa sa Chong Won (NMCW or United Workers in Chong Won)
and Normelita Galon of the Kaisahan ng mga Manggagawa sa Phils. Jeon (KMPJ
or Unity of Workers in Phils. Jeon), they denounced PEZA director-general
Lilia de Lima for "her blatant disregard of our right to strike and to
In August 2004, both unions won in their
certification elections but their respective managements protested it. The
DoLE, the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) and the Court
of Appeals (CA) have since issued separate decisions affirming their
legitimacy. At least 66 workers have already been served termination
"We follow the rule of law, yet our rights
are being trampled and our bodies are being assaulted violently," the
unions said in the statement. "Our Korean companies arrogantly mocked our
law, yet they are not being clubbed to suffer head and body injuries but
rather enjoy full protection and relentless favor from the government."
Support, local and abroad
Luz Baculo, secretary general of the
regional labor center Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (Pamantik
or Unity of Workers in Southern Tagalog), says the grievances of the CEPZ
strikers are legitimate. "Only an irrational and illogical being will have
them dispersed after the unions won several favorable legal decisions from
different labor and government institutions," she said.
PEZA's assaults against on-strike
workers have gained strong condemnation by labor solidarity groups abroad
such as the Maquila Solidarity Network (MSN) in Canada, the US-based
International Labor Rights Fund (ILRF) and the Workers' Rights Consortium
(WRC) in the US and Thailand.
The ILRF and MSN are now petitioning
Wal-Mart to pressure their supplier to respect its code of conduct and the
country's labor laws. Bulatlat
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© 2006 Bulatlat
Alipato Media Center
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