Delayed 13th month pay. Delayed and staggered payment of salaries. Delayed remittance of monthly salary deduction. Non-remittance of withholding taxes. These are only a few of the problems experienced by workers as early as 2004 in the former National Steel Corporation in Iligan City, Misamis Oriental. After five years and one day before the expiration of their CBA, more than 500 rank-and-file workers of the now Global Steel Philippines, Inc. went on strike on February 15 and is on its 2nd week of their picket in front of the Global Steel Factory.
According to workers met by Bayan Muna on February 27 in the picket site, after its turnover in October 2004 to Indian national Pramoud Mittal, GPSI has been evading the implementation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement which in effect dismisses the existence of the labor union. In the whole five years of GPSI, workers have been experiencing delays in their salaries and in their 13th month pays, and the non-remittance or delayed remittance of taxes and monthly salary deductions for SSS, Pag-ibig and Philhealth contributions that resulted in its forfeiture. GPSI also utterly disregards the Occupational Safety and Health Hazard Law due to the insufficient provision of proper safety apparels and its mismanagement of company machines and equipment. The Labor Union has already filed complaints to the National Labor Relations Commission in Iligan City, for years since 2006 but still fails to get due attention from the commission.
In a letter addressed to the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, the GPSI Labor Union is appealing for support for the immediate resolution of their labor issues. But aside from labor-management problems, the labor union is also calling on the government to respond to questions on the special treatment GPSI is getting from the government because it has been bastardly violating the workers’ rights and bypassing Philippine labor laws. According to the said letter, Mittal is the 69th richest family in the 2008 Forbes Magazine and yet cannot meet up with its obligations to its workers, its suppliers, and to pay its taxes. Labor Union leaders and members cannot help but think that there is a conspiracy between the government and GPSI foreign and local management because of the same reason they went on strike. The workers also want the management penalized for trampling on the Filipino people’s dignity.
The former NSC was once known as the largest steelmaking plant in Southeast Asia and the pride of Philippine Industry.
Elmer Nelson Nayon, union president, expressed the union’s interest in affiliating with the Kilusang Mayo Uno after their membership agreed to break away from their present federation. The officers said they need a federation that will genuinely help them achieve their labor demands and long term goals.
Bayan Muna calls on the different sectors in Iligan City and beyond to support the strike of the GPSI Labor Union for its nationalist ideals and for the long overdue implementation of their CBA.