By ALDWIN QUITASOL
MANKAYAN, Benguet, Philippines — Mine workers at the Lepanto Mine Division of the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMCo) picketed the company’s general office to demand a stop to the extended work-rotation scheme and other unfair labor practices.
Manny Binhaon Jr., president of Lepanto Employees Union-National Federation of Labor Unions-Kilusang Mayo Uno (LEU-NAFLU-KMU), asked their employers to heed the workers’ demands. He reported that the union has repeatedly brought up the workers’ issues to the management but only a few of them were addressed.
The practice of work rotation has already exceeded the allowable time for its implementation, that’s why it has to stop, Binhaon explained. Based on the advisory of Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on private companies adopting flexible work arrangements, reducing normal workdays per week should not last for more than six months.
Lepanto began implementing work rotation on Nov. 1, 2008, as part of its flexible work arrangements affecting both the underground and surface workers.
Of Lepanto’s 2,015 mine workers, only 250 are on work rotation. Binhaon described work rotation as workforce reduction in disguise.
On top of work rotation, the mine workers decried their long-delayed salaries. If workers receive their wages, they receive it in installment.
Binhaon said Lepanto also did not fully pay them their 13th-month pay, as well as the retirement pay of retired employees.
Pablito Sicdoy, president of Lepanto Security Force Union (LSFU)-NAFLU-KMU, said that up to now, the management is not paying its employees’ SSS and Pag-IBIG premiums. “Because our SSS and Pag-IBIG premiums were not being remitted, we could not enjoy our benefits such as loans and others,” Sicdoy said.
In a statement, Anakbayan-Lepanto asked the company to stop delaying the salaries of their fathers:
“What this company is doing to us is too much. We are gravely affected by the problems of our parents. Since our fathers’ wages were being delayed, many of us have to quit school, especially when work rotation was started. What will be our future then? Why is Lepanto robbing us of the fruit of our fathers’ labor?”
Irene Dipigen of Tignayan dagiti Babbai iti Minasan a Lepanto (TBML) condemned Lepanto’s callous treatment of mine workers. Dipigen said the wives of Lepanto workers can’t budget with partial salaries. She pointed to the “Safety First” logo of Lepanto. “If Lepanto knows the real meaning of safety, then Lepanto should also see to it that employees have something to eat and are healthy.”
Management representative Knestor Jose Y. Godino, Human Resource Management and Development manager, promised to take note of and bring up the workers’ issues and concerns to Lepanto’s next meeting in LCMCo’s main office at Makati City.
Binhaon said they will hold weekly delegations and call for more support from different groups if Lepanto continued to ignore their just demands. (Posted by Bulatlat.com)