By ALDWIN QUITASOL
MANKAYAN, Benguet — The Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company (LCMCo) owes its workers an accumulated amount of P254.37 million ($5.79 million) in unpaid wages and benefits.
The total amount includes P12 million ($273 thousand) in monthly salaries and 24 months backwages, unpaid 13th month pay for 2009 amounting to around P17.14 million ($390 thousand) ; P6.98 million ($159 thousand) for Bureau of Internal Revenue Tax Refund for 2009; P4.791 million ($109 thousand) Pag-ibig Premium from July 2009 to August 2010.
This also includes P1.45 million ($33 thousand) for accrued unused vacation leaves for 2008 for the members of the Lepanto Employees Union-National Federation of Labor Unions-Kilusang Mayo Uno (LEU-NAFLU-KMU); P1.8 million ($41 thousand) for accrued unused sick leaves for 2009 for LEU and the Lepanto Security Force Union-NAFLU-KMU (LSFU);
P196 million ($4.46 million) in upped wages from January 2010 to August 2010; P6.5 million ($148 thousand) unlimited loan payments to Lepanto Credit Cooperative Inc. (LCCI) for January 2009 to August 2010 and P7.6 million ($173 thousand) un-remitted loan payments to Lepanto Savings and Loans Association (LSLA).
The said debt of the company was validated at the office of the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) Executive Director Reynaldo Ubaldo last August 31 where representatives of the LEU and LSFU as well as LCMCo met.
According to the officers of LEU, the management representatives said the accumulated debts would be paid depending on the production.
The company’s Social Security System (SSS) liabilities to its workers amounting to more than P90 million ($2.05 million) has not yet been included.
According to LEU, LCMCo applied for condonation of loans at the SSS in July and was approved with a condition that the company would maintain its good standing.
The union said the company failed again to comply and did not remit thereby denying the workers their right to avail benefits as SSS members.
The workers also complained about the continuing delay of their wages. They said the company even gives their salaries in partial payment.
“Pity the children because they have nothing to eat during their recess in school and there is not enough money to buy their needs in school,” said Junita Farrong in the local dialect of the Tignayan dagiti Babbai iti Minasan a Lepanto (Womens’ Movement in Lepanto Mines).
LEU also complained of union busting as the company hires more contractuals while firing regular workers without due process and without following the agreed grievance procedure of the union.
The LEU and the LSFU would seek other means that could help solve their problems such as through Labor-Management meetings, dialogues, lobbying, delegation and mobilizations to concerned agencies especially the Department of Labor and Employment-Cordillera (DOLE) and the NCMB-Cordillera, the local government unit of Mankayan and even the main office of LCMCo at Makati City.
The LEU and the LSFU drafted a letter signed by the union members and their families addressed to DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz and the office of Anakpawis Partylist Representative Rafael Mariano.
” As a general result of the problems stated, the union members and their families are experiencing budget-deficits for food and other basic daily needs, many of their children in college stopped schooling upon the implementation of the work rotation and reduction scheme. The daily/monthly earnings were reduced, delayed and partially paid. The workers could not live and work well as this exploitation by the company continues,” the letter stated.
They are requesting that a congressional inquiry through the office of Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano be conducted. They requested Mariano and Baldoz to intervene to arrest the unfair labor practices in their workplace and make LCMCo pay its obligations. The two unions are also asking that Baldoz help workers enjoy adequate protection against union-discrimination, threats and harassment.
The two unions hope that the respective offices would extend their helping hand by addressing their issues. (Bulatlat.com)