The company reportedly suspended Collective Bargaining Agreement talks after the union and other workers held a protest action on July 16 denouncing the 16-hour work and forced overtime in the company.
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – Workers in a Cebu plant manufacturing high quality activated Carbon from coconut shell (used for purifying water) appealed for public support to their campaign against forced overtime by their management. The workers union is from the Cenapro Chemical Corporation, a company in Mandaue City, Cebu, which is 35-percent owned by Japanese Kuraray Corp., 60 percent by Cenapro and five percent by Marubeni.
Workers want the management to stop forcing them to work overtime, which they blame for incidences of over-fatigue and illnesses among the 100 workers of the manufacturing plant.
Based on a petition letter recently circulated by the Visayan Human Development Agency (VIHDA), Cenapro Chemicals Employees Association (CCEA)-ANGLO-KMU filed a notice of strike with the NCMB (National Conciliation and Mediation Board) two months ago (August 1) complaining that the company unilaterally halted CBA negotiations and started harassing unionists.
Early this year, the workers’ union and the management began negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement. But the company suspended talks after the union and other workers held a protest action July 16 denouncing the 16-hour workday and forced overtime in the company.
The unionists reported incidences of harassment of union officials and union members after the protest.
Cenapro union president, Arle Tigley, reported receiving threats of dismissal when he attended a hearing for another labor complaint filed with the Labor Department.
Tigley said he filed a leave of absence for the scheduled hearing but this was not approved by the management, so he took a leave without pay instead. The following day, he was charged with “insubordination,” which, according to company rules, can lead to termination on first offense.
Another union officer was suspended for five days after he was unable to work overtime due to over-fatigue. The company also summoned 24 other union members to make them explain their involvement in the July 16 protest.
To date, conciliation meetings between the management and the CCEA-ANGLO-KMU are still going on but without progress.
Past record of company deceit
The workers’ union recalled several cases of harassment and deceit by the company against the union and workers. In 2011, the management of Cenapro Chemicals Corporation reportedly deceived the union by altering the provisions of the CBA on the day of CBA signing.
In 2012, the company fired 17 union members after they conducted a protest action against management’s refusal to shoulder expenses for the hospitalization of a union member who died of cancer.
The latter dispute was resolved and the 17 CCEA members were brought back to work also in 2012.
The labor NGO Center for Trade Union and Human Rights expressed support for the chemical workers’ campaign. They emphasized that forced overtime and 16 hours of straight work is inhumane.
“The harassment on CCEA, even the threat to fire their union leader because they refuse to be treated like slaves, is a desperate move of the company to squeeze more profit from the workers. It attacks not just the union but the hard-won right of workers to an 8-hour working day and humane treatment,” said Arman Hernando, coordinator of rights documentation in CTUHR.