WOMEN AND CHILDREN, TOO:
Women and children in Mankayan march to the mines site to dramatize their
sympathy for the strike. Photos by Nordis
MANKAYAN, Benguet — Wilma is 11 years
old and the fourth of six children. last week, she joined more than 1,000
women and children here (348 kms north of Manila) in a march-rally
supporting the demands of the Lepanto Employees Union (LEU) under the
Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMCo).
Wilma's father is a member of the LEU.
"The rest of my siblings are here too,” Wilma says, while seriously
holding up a placard calling on the LCMCo management to grant the union's
demands in the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) covering the years
2005 to 2008.
The union proposed a daily wage hike
amounting to P29, P29 and P33 ($0.53, $0.53 and $0.61, based on an
exchange rate of P54.49 per US dollar) for the first, second and third
year of the CBA’s effectivity. However, the management offered amounts of
P21, P26 and P28 ($0.38, $0.48 and $0.51).
Led by the Timpuyog dagiti Babbai ti
Lepanto (TBML, or Unity of Women in Lepanto Mines), the march-rally took
place within the company's compound, starting from the Union Hall to Cruz,
then back to the General Office where a short program was held.
This historical event is the first of
its kind among the women and children of Mankayan.
Throughout the march, the protesters
aired the union's demands for the Lepanto community to know. Lepanto
covers the villages of Sapid and Cabitin.
During the strike at LCMCo in 2003,
the miners' wives played a significant role in guarding and sustaining the
picketline. They were even at the forefront in rallies to reiterate their
husbands' call for just wages and benefits.
"Makitignay kami met, dakami nga
asawa ken an armak. Bassit lang daytoy a dawat mi ti kompanya. Saan kami a
mamati a maluglugi ti Lepanto” (We don't believe that Lepanto is not
earning. The union's demand is even a small portion of the company's
profit raked in. That is why we and our children chose to support the
miners' call.), said Analene Bayaten, TBML secretary during the program.
Her husband has worked for LCMCo for 10 years.
Another TBML member, Marivic Kitalan,
asserted that the demand for the wage increase is only just and
"The miners' basic pay of P341 ($6.26)
daily can only allow us to buy the immediate needs of the household, like
sugar and milk. What about the daily allowance we need to send our
children to school?" she said.
Aside from the women and children of
the locality, the peasant sector of Mankayan, Tadian (Mt. Province),
Cervantes and Quirino (Ilocos Sur) expressed their support to the workers’
demands through the inter-municipality alliance
Mankayan-Cervantes-Quirino-Tadian Danggayan a Gunglo (MACQUITACDG).
Xavier Akien, MACQUITACDG secretary
general, in a solidarity message condemned LCMCo's 69 years of destructive
mining, and the company's use of the armed forces to protect its
interests, such as in the 2003 workers' strike.
Akien also condemned the Assumption of
Jurisdiction (AJ) order issued by Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE)
Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas even when the workers were not yet on
strike. Akien emphasized the constitutional right to strike, at this time
when laws are used to suppress people fighting for their democratic
He emphasized the basic alliance of
workers and peasants, which was proven during the 2003 strike. Local
peasants and even those from neighboring communities did not only express
support for the striking workers then. They also helped sustain the
workers' picketline by providing food. Nordis/ Posted by
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