Martial Law still in force over workers in ecozones

Union leader Bonifacio Day
Union leader Michael Hinggan details the Martial Law approach to bar workers’ demands and mass actions during a speech at Mendiola on Nov 30 Bonifacio Day (Photo by M. Salamat / Bulatlat)

The dismissal of union leaders and brutal demolition of strikers’ picket line or picket protest camp has become a familiar story across the country in recent years.


MANILA – Has Martial Law really ended?

To workers in the country’s economic enclaves, martial Law remains in force to this day. They suffer its repressive policies in their daily work. At the Bonifacio day protest in Mendiola, Michael Hinggan testified to the martial law-like treatment of workers by the state and the employers. He is vice-president of a workers’ union in a factory producing materials for printing at an economic enclave in Laguna. Their factory is called Philippine Dong Yun Plate Making Corporation. It has more than a hundred workforce in Laguna. It has two other branches: one in Meycauayan, Bulacan and one in Cabuyao, Laguna. It also has branches in other countries.

Driven by what Hinggan calls as slave-like working condition in the factory, he said the workers decided to form a union despite countless obstacles. It is an open secret that in economic enclaves there is a no-union, no-strike policy in force, he said.

But because of meager wages even if they have worked with the company for years, because of lack of job security and lack of attention to the workers’ health and safety, they struggled to form a union. Their hope was to collectively seek some improvement in their job condition.

The Samahan at Ugnayan ng mga Manggagawa sa Phil Dong Yun (SUMAPHI-DY-NAFLU-KMU) was certified as the Sole and Exclusive Bargaining Agent by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) after it won the Certification Election (CE) last September 2015. But the workers said the Phil Dong Yun management refused to recognize the union and their workers’ rights to collective bargaining. Instead, it fired the union leaders after slapping them with various cases on top of harassing them on the job.

On November 7, the union defied the prevailing no-union, no-strike policy in the enclave – they launched a strike. They succeeded in paralyzing production but only for a week.

Hinggan said Dong Yun’s “paid goons” later descended on their picketline and brutally demolished it. At present, they have filed a case of illegal dismissal with the National Conciliation and Mediation Board of the Labor department. Given that even the Labor department had failed to stop the brutal demolition of their picketline, or the dismissal on the job of the union leaders, he said the workers cannot rely only on these institutions. He believes the workers need to organize their ranks so they can launch strikes or act in solidarity with those on strike.

Phil Dong Yun Plate Making Corporation is a Chinese firm operating in the Filinvest Technological Park in Calamba, Laguna. It manufactures and supplies print cylinders to all rotogravure printing industry in the Philippines. Their customers print flexible product packaging for almost all of the consumer products in the Philippines including Del Monte, URC products, Unilever, shampoo, toothpaste, major cigarette companies and much more.

The dismissal of union leaders and brutal demolition of strikers’ picket line or picket protest camp has become a familiar story across the country in recent years. Aside from Phil Dong Yun workers, it had also been the report of workers of Tanduay Distillers in Laguna, those in Davao Nakashin International Inc., radio workers in Davao and Manila, auto glass makers in Manila, among others.

On top of encountering repression when they form unions or hold mass actions, workers from all sort of labor groups complained that they are encountering hardships in organizing unions because of the increasing contractualization of jobs. (

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