By ALMA B. SINUMLAG
BAGUIO CITY – Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) negotiations between the Lepanto Employees Union–National Federation of Labor Union–Kilusang Mayo Uno (LEU-Naflu-KMU) and Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMC) hit a deadlock last August 27.
“The company will not budge from its zero increase in the first year of the CBA; it did not give the union a choice but to declare deadlock,” said Vicente Dilem of Cordillera Labor Center (CLC) in an interview.
It can be recalled that the LCMC has offered a 0-19-19 wage hike in the three year term of their agreement while the workers reduced their asking increase to 35-40-40.
During the negotiations, Dilem said it was obvious that Lepanto, represented by a certain Attorney Limos, Varilla and Godino, did not intend to raise their bargain amidst the hot discussion. Also, the union was firm in asserting its reduced 35-40-40 bargain. But the company replied with “Take it or leave it.” This, he added, prompted the union to declare a deadlock in the CBA negotiations.
The declaration could pave the way for a work stoppage in the mining company.
The company, Dilem said, is still trying to bargain despite the declaration of deadlock. “The company is now saying they will offer something and not zero wage increase on the first year,” Dilem said.
But Dilem said the management would now have to talk also with the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB), because the union is set to file a Notice of Strike (NOS) soon.
It can be recalled that in 2003, the said union staged a month-long strike with community support. The strike was prompted by the company’s unfair labor practices such as unsafe working environment, unfair wages, contractualization and others. The company then gave in to the workers’ demands.
Also, in 2005, another strike was staged by the union because of the continuing layoff of regular employees especially the members of the union while hiring contractual employees. The strike lasted for three months despite the company’s connivance with state forces to break up the picket line through harassment. Given no choice and because of the state forces’ terror tactics, LEU officers were later forced to sacrifice their employment, as the company offered to reinstate 200 members who were earlier retrenched by the mine firm, but at the cost of terminating union officers including Dilem.