NXP Semi-conductors, Inc. accused the workers of holding an ‘illegal strike’ because they refused to work on April 9, 17, 18 and May 1, all government-declared holidays.
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – As majority of workers in NXP Semi-conductors, Inc. chose to observe the country’s legal holidays, the Dutch-owned company, which operates at Light Industry and Science Park I in Laguna, terminated 24 union leaders last Monday (May 5). In a memo, NXP management said the union officers were terminated because they “participated knowingly in illegal strike.”
The union clarified that the management was referring to the workers’ refusal to work overtime last April 9, 17, 19 and May 1, which are all public holidays.
The termination is viewed and condemned as union-busting not just by the union affected, the NXP Semiconductors Company Workers Union (NXPSCIWU), but also by labor advocates and the labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno. It happened amid a deadlock in the collective bargaining negotiations between NXP management and the workers’ union.
“The termination of all union officials is yet another harassment of the NXP management to force us to give up on our just CBA demands to improve the lot of the workers,” said Reden Alcantara, union president.
Prior to the dismissal, Alcantara said that NXP has also harassed the peaceful concerted actions of the workers, such as their protest march in front of the gates of the industrial enclave. The company deployed security guards in shuttle buses and barred the workers from getting off the buses so they could not participate in the union activity. Alcantara said the workers were forced to jump from the windows of the buses so they can get out and join the protest-march. In another incident, he said the workers’ peaceful concerted action was met by a heavy deployment of “emergency response personnel” and a firetruck.
The Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER) said the termination of union officers at NXP Semiconductors grossly undermines the union’s bargaining efforts and is tantamount to union-busting.
“NXP Semiconductors’ illegal dismissal of the 24 unionists is aimed at derailing the CBA negotiations and weakening the union, which has been steadfast in asserting their rights for higher wages and job security,” EILER executive director Anna Leah Escresa said in a statement.
‘Workers justified in not working on holidays’
The government has declared April 9, Araw ng Kagitingan, a holiday, while April 17 and 18 are Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, respectively. As for May 1, which is International Labor Day, the union and the company has a standing agreement that all union members will be off from work and will participate in Labor Day activities, Alcantara said.
As such, the NXP workers have all the reason in the world not to go to work on the said dates, said Elmer “Bong” Labog, chairman of KMU. He accused the NXP of using the allegation of illegal strike as an excuse for busting the workers’ union, which is a member of a KMU-affiliated labor federation.
It is not the supposed illegal strike but NXP’s extreme “greed for bigger profits” that prompted the NXP management’s moves, the KMU leader said.
In negotiations since January this year, the company has reportedly insisted on maintaining its corporate policy against a wage hike, as it countered the union’s final proposal for an eight percent wage hike by refusing to budge from its offer of a 3.5- percent wage increase. This, amid praises by analysts that NXP Semiconductors Inc.’s profitability is “hitting new lifetime high.”
“We express serious concern over the termination of NXP union leaders without due process and based on flimsy unacceptable reasons amid bargaining negotiations,” Escresa said.
Aside from sending an ominous signal to other unions hoping to adjust their wages through new collective bargaining agreements, the Dutch company’s regard of Philippine legal holidays is also portentous. EILER said the NXP Semiconductors, which manufactures different types of sensors, audio amplifiers and microchips, is setting a very bad example to other companies who might also threaten their workers into reporting for work during holidays.
Aquino govt scored for disrespecting workers’ rights
Aside from the stalled CBA negotiations, forced overtime on legal holidays, and now, allegedly illegal termination of union leaders, the KMU also called attention to what it condemns as blatant concerted efforts of various government agencies to undermine and emasculate the workers’ democratic rights.
Labog accuses the NXP semi-conductors company of receiving help from the Aquino government through the Department of Labor and Employment, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority, and the Light Industry and Science Park management. The latter had also tried to stop the workers’ concerted actions in violation of their basic right to hold protests, the NXP union leaders said.
“We also condemn the Aquino government for actively colluding with the NXP management in violating workers’ rights to hold protests, thereby undermining their right to collectively bargain,” said Labog.
The KMU questioned the claims of the Aquino government that it is prioritizing job generation “when it presses down wages, promotes contractual employment and violates trade-union rights, while doing nothing when workers are being laid off from work for having formed unions and asserted their rights.”
NXP Semiconductors has a workforce of about 5,000. Its unionists have previously told Bulatlat.com that the company has increased its hired contractuals to levels approximating the number of the regular workers when they started negotiation for a new CBA last January.
Labog appealed to all workers and Filipinos to support the struggle of NXP workers, saying these workers are “facing repression from both the foreign capitalist and the Aquino government, just because they are asserting their rights.”
The labor NGO EILER, meanwhile, joins the call of various labor groups for the immediate reinstatement of the dismissed union leaders and for the NXP management to heed the workers’ demand for a significant wage increase.
The Metal Workers Alliance of the Philippines (MWAP), a national alliance of unions and workers in the electronics, automotive, shipbuilding, metallurgical mining, steel and related industries, also called for the immediate reinstatement of the 24 dismissed union officers. The union in NXP is a member of MWAP. In a statement, it also urged the company to resume the CBA negotiations with the union. MWAP is set to launch a campaign supporting the NXP workers’ issues here and abroad.