This story was taken from Bulatlat, the Philippines's alternative weekly newsmagazine (,,
Vol. V, No. 17, June 5-11, 2005


Women, Children Back Miners' Strike in Mankayan

How does one know that the workers’ demands are just and fair? One indication is the groundswell of support they get not only from other marginalized sectors, but also their spouses and children.

Northern Dispatch

Posted by Bulatlat

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 legitimate.

"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.

Basic alliance

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 rights.

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 Bulatlat 

© 2004 Bulatlat  Alipato Publications

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