Trade union repression
Meanwhile, Gloria Bongon, president of the Bluestar Workers Labor Union, said that workers from their factory, which produces Advan shoes, experience sexual harassment, unfair labor practices and union busting perpetrated by the owner Jimmy Ong.
Bongon said, “Ang boss namin lasenggo, papasok ng alas-singko ng umaga, uupo sa gate at hihingan ng halik at yakap ang kababaihang manggagawa.” (Our boss is an alcoholic, he would go to the factory as early as 5 a.m. and compel women workers to kiss and hug him.)
She said that many of the women workers experience trauma.
Bongon who has worked for the company for 19 years lamented, “Ibinuhos namin ang lakas at galing para sa kompanya pero wala man lang pagrespeto sa amin bilang babae at bilang manggagawa.” (We have given all our strength and skills for the company but our rights as women and as workers were not respected.)
She said their previous three attempts to form a union never succeeded. When they finally registered the Bleustar Workers Labor Union, the management tried to close down the factory.
“Nagbalak silang maglabas ng 25 makina, humarang kami sa daanan ng truck,” she related. (They tried to move 25 machines to another site but we blocked the truck.)
Bongon said their picket protest has become a full-blown strike.
Ricardo Sosa, an officer of the International Wiring System (IWS) Union in Hacienda Luisita, Tarlac said that 70 percent of the IWS workers are women.
Sosa denounced the harassment of elements of 71st Infantry Battalion against union officers and members. He said that since March this year, soldiers ‘visit’ them daily.
He said that soldiers repeatedly went to the house of a woman union officer. Not being able to see their co-worker, the soldiers left a message for her – If she will not show up, her family would be killed.
Merly Grafe, secretary of the union at the Phils. Jeon Corporation in Rosario, Cavite, related that two of her co-workers were taken by security guards of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA).
The two, Normelita Galon, acting president of the union and Aurora Afable, a union member were tied and blindfolded. They were warned against joining union activities.
Grafe also recounted how the policemen violently dispersed their strike in September 2006.
Grafe said, “Ligal na karapatan ang pag-uunyon pero iba ang sinasabi ng pulis at ng gobyerno.” (The right to form a union is legal but the police and the government are saying otherwise.)
Abad said that in the face of these attacks, women workers have two options, either to escape or to continue fighting.
She said that while many choose to work abroad, others take the path of collective struggle by forming or joining a union.
Members of the Women Wise3 obviously opt for the latter. As Bluestars’ Bongon said, “Lalaban kami huwag lang maparalisa ang aming unyon.” (We will fight just so our union would not be paralyzed.) (Bulatlat.com)