The Nagkakaisang Manggagawa sa Chong Won (NMCW or United Chong Won Workers) and the Kaisahan ng mga Manggagawa sa PhilsJeon, Inc. (KMPJI or Unity of PhilsJeon, Inc. Workers) went on strike on Sept. 25, 2006, protesting the refusal of their companies’ respective managements to negotiate for a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Their strikes were dispersed by CEPZ police and by guards from the Jantro Security Agency on Sept. 25 and 27, respectively.
The strikers, who were mostly women, defended themselves not only from breast-mashing but also from bamboo clubs and kicks. Many of them sustained head and body injuries. On top of it all, the CEPZ police imposed a food blockade on the strikers for several months and prevented them from entering the CEPZ premises.
Still, the NMCW and KMPJI strikes went on for almost eight and 10 months, respectively. On June 11, 2007, armed men wearing ski masks threatened to shoot the striking Chong Won workers if they did not end their strike. The same thing was done to the PhilsJeon strikers on Aug. 5, 2007.
Gonzales, in particular, thought that Aug. 5, 2007 would be her last night on earth. At dawn that day, she and a companion were roused from sleep by the armed men who attacked their picket line, gagged and their wrists and ankles were tied. They were hauled into a vehicle and taken for a long ride before being left on a field.
“Talagang pag naaalala ko… Di ko talaga… Nakakatakot… Mahirap… Simple lang ang ‘pinaglalaban namin, gano’n ang nangyari sa amin” (Really, whenever I recall it… I couldn’t… It was horrifying… It’s difficult… What we were fighting for was simple and we had to go through that), Galon said.
“Ipinaglalaban namin ang karapatan namin” (We were fighting for our rights), said Bago, who worked for 16 years at Chong Won. “Hindi namin alam kung bakit dumating sa ganito, kami pa y’ong nabigyan ng kaso, kami pa y’ong nabigyan ng warrant of arrest” (We don’t know why it came to this, that we were the ones slapped with charges, that we were the ones issued warrants of arrest.)
Aside from having been slapped with charges and being put through harassment and even violence, they also are having a hard time finding new jobs. They have been banned and blacklisted by the CEPZ.
“Nag-aaplay ako sa EPZA (Economic Processing Zone Authority) kaya lang hindi nila ako tinatanggap” (I’ve been applying at the EPZA but they didn’t hire me), said Garabato.
“Kapag sinabing PhilsJeon, ayaw na” (When you tell them you’re from PhilsJeon, they refuse to hire you), Hernandez shared.
“Sino ba naman ang tatanggap sa amin?” (Who will hire us?) said Eugenio. “Overage, kasama sa unyon, nagwelga, blacklisted, hindi kami tatanggapin” (We are overaged, union members who launched a strike, and were blacklisted – we won’t be hired.)
Right now, all they wish for is that their lives return to normal.
“Sana naman tingnan nila ng maayos yung harassment kasi kami na nga y’ong nasaktan, kami na y’ong naagrabyado, kami pa y’ng may kasalanan” (I hope they take a good look at the harassment because we were the ones who were hurt, we were the ones aggrieved, and yet we are being made to appear guilty), Eugenio said. “Sana ayusin ng gobyerno, tulungan kami. Sana naman huwag laging y’ong may pera ang tingnan ng gobyerno natin” (I hope the government fixes this and helps us. It is not only the moneyed ones that the government should help.)
“Dapat mahalin naman nila yung karapatan namin” (They should care for our rights), Galon said. “Dapat pansinin naman nila y’ong panawagan ng mga manggagawa” (They should heed the workers’ demands.) (Bulatlat.com)