Workers condemn Lepanto Mining for bargaining in bad faith

May 5, 2011

453 workers laid off one day after Labor Day

MANILA — Labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno condemned Benguet-based Lepanto Mining Company’s illegal retrenchment of 453 workers a day after Labor Day, amidst negotiations for a Collective Bargaining Agreement with the workers’ union. Almost half of the rank-and-file workers were left jobless in the Lepanto management’s move.

“Lepanto workers tried to negotiate in good faith; in return, they were illegaly laid off from their jobs – this, after Lepanto’s record of non-remittance of workers’ wages and benefits,” said Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general.

“This is harassment at its worst possible form. Instead of heeding workers’ calls for substantial wage increase and better working conditons in negotiations for a CBA, Lepanto Mining Company illegally retrenched its workers in clear violation of their rights to security of tenure and to self-organization,” he added.

“Lepanto Mining Company wants to avoid facing workers in a CBA negotiation through such union-busting schemes that lay off almost half of rank-and-file employees and the whole security forces union. These are old tricks to attack unions and prevent them from bargaining for higher wages and appropriate benefits,” Soluta added.

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Last year, the Lepanto Employees Union-NAFLU-KMU and the Security Forces Union-NAFLU-KMU filed notices of strike on the grounds of unfair labor practices and illegal termination. The Lepanto Mining Company was forced to pay a portion of the P254 million unpaid wages and benefits which it owed the workers.

The management forced the workers to withdraw the notice of strike as a pre-requisite for opening negotiations for a CBA, promising to negotiate in good faith in return. But the Lepanto management did not do as it promised.

“Because Lepanto does not want peaceful negotiations, workers are left with no other choice but to fight for their rights and welfare,” said Soluta.

CBA vs. legislated wage hike

KMU also slammed President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III for putting workers’ welfare at the mercy of capitalists, saying that the Lepanto case is a perfect example of why workers do not expect anything good from capitalists in CBA negotiations and why workers are calling for a legislated wage hike.

“Can Noynoy still advice Lepanto workers to beg for a substantial wage increase from capitalists through negotiations for a CBA? We cannot expect capitalists, especially those like Lepanto, to hike workers’ wages by a significant amount through CBAs. Capitalists have repeatedly shown that they are most willing to sabotage negotiations to avoid implementing increases in workers’ wages and benefits,” Soluta said.

“KMU expresses it solidarity with the workers of Lepanto Mining Company and the Security Force Union in their struggle against exploitation by these capitalist and against a government that favors foreign and local investors, and not the Filipino workers and people,” Soluta ended.#

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