“It seems that not even death can force the labor department to speak up against capitalists.” – Joselito Ustarez, KMU vice-chairman
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – More than three months after 150-plus long-time workers of Pentagon Steel Corporation began their daily protest against the company’s alleged illegal lockout, security guards tasked to control them may soon join their picket instead. One security guard died and two others lost their legs after the company truck tried to run over the picketing workers but hit the security guards instead last July 13.
Some security guards are now in talks with leaders of ADLO-KMU, the federation helping the picketing workers of Pentagon Steel Corporation. These security guards reportedly told them that they are not being paid their wages, Leandro “Doods” Gerodias, president of ADLO-KMU, shared.
Yesterday morning, members of Kilusang Mayo UNO (KMU) along with workers of Pentagon Steel Corp. and workers from other companies picketed in front of the labor department. They condemned the department for its inaction over the death and injuries of security guards and workers amid a labor dispute that it also appeared reluctant to resolve.
“The labor department should have been protecting the welfare and interests of workers, instead, it is colluding with employers, using the police, to attack the workers,” said Joselito Ustarez, KMU vice-chairman, during their picket.
KMU, in a statement, said the violence inflicted on the workers of Pentagon Steel Corporation, maker of nails and cyclone wires and owned and headed by Mariano A. Chan, is one of the worst that the labor movement has seen in recent years and that the labor department is blatantly acting like a capitalist tool in refusing to act on the issue.
“It seems that not even death can force the labor department to speak up against capitalists,” Ustarez said.
Last July 13, the company truck ran over and caused the death of security guard Carlos Yanez, the amputation of the leg of security guard Marlon Aquino and a foot of security guard Edison Gutierrez. On a daily basis, the protesting workers reported that they are being harassed by the company goons and the police.
The police did not speak out nor made arrests following the reported incident with the Pentagon delivery truck. Some security guards reportedly told ADLO-KMU that the family of the killed security guard was given only P5,000 ($116) all in all.
“We are calling on Filipino workers and the people to support the struggle for reinstatement of the Pentagon workers. They need all the help they can get in struggling against the collusion of Chan, the Philippine National Police and the labor department,” Ustarez said.
As end of July comes near, so does the 60-day temporary injunction order issued by the National Labor Relations Council (NLRC) against the Pentagon workers’ supposed strike. The workers had been questioning the injunction, but even before it is resolved, another petition from Pentagon’s Chan is being deliberated upon in NLRC. This time, Chan is reportedly asking for a permanent injunction order against the supposed strike.
Jerico Zanciller, one of the protesting Pentagon workers, told Bulatlat.com the labor department is telling them to just return to work, but the workers are insisting on a signed Memorandum of Agreement first.
At present, Pentagon Steel Corporation is reportedly intent on continuing its stalled production, despite its earlier announcement of a lockout. After announcing the lockout, Mariano Chan through his human resources chief Pablito Alcover, reportedly wanted to take in only those workers who would sign a waiver against holding protest actions. That drove the long-time workers to their “protest picketline.”