NXP Semiconductors Phils. agrees to hike workers wage by 5.25-percent for 2014, and 3.5-percent for 2015 and 2016. It reinstated only half of the 24 union officers it fired last May 5.
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – Half of the 24 officers illegally sacked May 5 this year by electronics firm NXP got their jobs back last week as NXP management and the workers’ union finally concluded talks for a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The settlement leaves jobless the other half, 12 of the officers who led the negotiations and the subsequent union protest actions to achieve this new CBA.
Stalled since the end of March, the CBA negotiations ended with 5.25-percent wage hike for the first year, two points higher than the electronic giant’s long-held 3.5-percent offer, but nearly three points lower than the lowest workers’ demand. The workers will receive a 3.5 percent hike, as the management wanted, for the next two years of the CBA.
The compromise settlement was mediated by representatives of the labor department, amid an atmosphere of “martial law” in the NXP plant and the economic zone where it is located in Cabuyao, Laguna.
From the start of CBA negotiations in January, NXP reportedly increased to more than 2,000 the number of contractual workers it hired. Unprecedented in NXP, the management took in as much number of contractual workers as regular workers, which counted to 2,100.
Following the illegal dismissal of union officers on May 5, the company and the Light Industry and Science Park 1 economic zone also increased the security forces inside the zone, inside the NXP plant and even inside the workers’ shuttle buses.
After the CBA was signed, the number of newly signed contractual workers started to go down, as well as the level of security forces deployed at workers’ pick up points to and from the LISP-1 gates to NXP plant and the number of police forces deployed near enclave stations, said Reden Alcantara, president of NXPCIWU (NXP Semiconductors Company Workers Union), an affiliate of NAFLU-KMU.
In a statement, the Metal Workers Alliance of the Philippines (MWAP) of which NXPSCIWU is a member, hailed the settlement of the CBA in NXP as “a victory” that resulted from the unity of NXP workers and strong support of local and international community.
Much of this victory they referred to rests on the failure of NXP management to totally bust the union, as the union and labor advocates suspect it had sought to do when it fired on May 5 all union officers, employed as much number of contractuals as regulars, and deployed police, goons and security guards to dissuade workers from engaging even in discussions.
The NXPSCIWU is one of the few unions inside the hostile territory of the special economic zones, Alcantara said. After their series of rallies to and from NXP, inside and outside the economic zone, they noted that more workers in the economic zones are now forming unions.
A new union inside the economic zone recently succeeded in winning a certification election.
The MWAP hailed the recent struggle of the NXP workers for having bucked the “no-union, no-strike” policy in ecozones. With supporters, they have repeatedly asserted their right to hold concerted actions inside this “hostile territory.”
They repeatedly broke through the heavily-guarded and secured gates of the Light Industry Science Park 1 (LISP 1) to protest in front of NXP. They continued to mass up despite the intimidating heavy presence of security guards, police and goons, the steel barriers in the gates, the surveillance cameras and the harassment. There were times their members had to jump from forcibly closed shuttle buses just to be able to join their rallies.
The statement by MWAP said the NXP struggle shows what international solidarity can do. Even as they thanked the supporters from Philippine unions and various sectoral organizations, they also thanked the global union IndustriALL who helped to pressure key NXP customer Apple, as well as Nokia, Samsung, Ericson and Panasonic, to uphold its ethical supply chain commitments.
NXP workers said they also received support from friends in the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, IG Metall, Union of Professional Engineers in Finland, Trade Union Pro, Finnish Metalworkers’ Union, Unite, United Steel Workers, NXP workers council in Hamburg, Good Electronics, United Students against Sweatshops, International Campaign for Responsible Technology, Philippine Australia Union Link, German Filipino Friends, and China Labour Action.
They added that even workers from Indonesia, China, Belgium, Netherlands, Hongkong, US and other countries, plus other global unions like UNI, the advocacy social media sites SumofUs and LabourStart, helped them drumbeat the Filipino electronic workers’ struggle.
More struggle lies ahead
The CBA of NXP workers may have been signed and concluded already as of Sept. 26, but for its workers and for those working in the economic zone, it “presages an even intensified struggle in the future,” the MWAP said in a statement.
The struggle has exposed the lie of “industrial peace” often cited by officials of the Labor department and economic zones. Alcantara told Bulatlat.com in an interview that NXP managers had called for “moving forward” with the CBA talks in their last negotiations.
But he noted the efforts the NXP management took to pressure the unionists into giving up the struggle. On top of the intimidating beefed up security and the illegal dismissal of officers, the NXP management reportedly tried to buy off the unionists’ surrender.
Before their CBA was finally concluded and signed on Sept. 26, the NXP management held a general meeting and discussed updates on the workers’ CBA, an undertaking usually reserved for unionists. The NXPSCIWU is a 33 year-old union: it traditionally conducted general union meetings to discuss updates on CBA, not the management.
In the management-led general assembly, it tried to explain to disgruntled workers why it sacked the 24 union officers, and then it gave the workers a P5,000 budget per group for “family day” such as outings.
Alcantara disclosed that the union members also lost some P16-million worth of benefits, which the NXPSCIWU, Labor department representatives and NXP management representatives have arrived at in a “gentlemen’s agreement” but which were excluded in the final CBA documents.
In the general assembly led by the union last week, members of NXPSCIWU reportedly cried for 12 of their officers who were not reinstated. They are now regarded as heroes of their new CBA.
The dismissed officers said they would continue to be with the labor movement, in other capacities, and they will still help NXPSCIWU until they have elected new union officers to take their place.
The termination of 12 union officers, including Alcantara, serves as a reminder of NXP’s attack on their union and democratic rights, which the Labor department seems to have ignored despite mediating the settlement of NXP’s new CBA. By law, the Labor department has the right to intervene in labor-management conflicts to prevent it from escalating into a strike.
But asked about the Labor department’s efforts to defend Filipino workers’ right to observe Philippine holidays, and as such to push for their reinstatement, Alcantara told Bulatlat.com the Labor department merely offered them some help in starting a small business.
NXP Semiconductors Cabuyao Inc. produces and exports electronic parts used for armaments and RF devices, power devices in computers and in automotives. As one of its test and assembly sites, which include those in Thailand and China, NXP Semiconductors in the Philippines supplies parts to Apple, Bosch, Continental, Delphi, Gemalto, Giesecke & Devrient, Huawei, Nokia, Siemens Network, Samsung and ZTE. Its global profits last year amounted to $4.82 billion. Filipino unionists had campaigned for at least an 8-percent wage hike.
NXP Semiconductors Philippines Inc. earns a “rather high” gross profit margin of 55.92 percent, according to analysts. In the last five years (from 2009 to 2013), its quarterly gross profit margin on average, is 45.55 percent.