November 24, 2010
On the second conciliation meeting on the notice of strike filed by the workers, the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company agrees to pay all monetary claims before end this month. These are, however, the claims specified in the preventive mediation case filed by the workers’ unions 2 years ago. This claims includes backlog in payroll from October to November amounting to P44 million plus P4 million for vacation leaves, sick leaves and rest leaves. Another P12.5 million shall be paid to local savings and cooperatives for unremitted loan payments of workers. Regarding the unremitted SSS and Philhealth, the government granted a condonation of penalties to the company. However, the workers can only avail of their benefits arising therefrom after 6 months if the company maintains a good standing record. Unremitted SSS and Philhealth contributions amounted to around P90 million.
Manuel Binhaon, Jr. president of LEU-NAFLU-KMU challenged his membership to “stay vigilant because these promises of the company will remain promises unless it is accomplished”.
Issues specified in the notice of strike are not resolved yet. On the issue of union busting, the management stood by their previous position that there is no union busting. The unions, Lepanto Employees Union-NAFLU-KMU and the Lepanto Security Force Union-NAFLU-KMU, insist that the retrenchment of 140 workers including union officers is a clear indication of union busting. The company is considering the recall of the retrenched union officers while other retrenched workers will be brought to voluntary arbitration.
KMU, through its regional coordinator, Vicente Dilem assails the company of its basis of retrenching the workers saying “the company is saying that the basis of retrenchment is workers’ inefficiency and bad record but how come they included three ‘model employees’ awarded by the company for several times?”
He said further that “this is clearly union busting as the company wanted to replace regular workers to contractual. We condemn the illegal termination of workers while they continuously hire contractual workers who doing the same thing regular workers are doing. This is an act of circumvention of the law. The series of company’s acts dating back to 2005 is, without doubt, a clear case of union busting. ”
It shall be recalled that the two labor unions filed a notice of strike on November 12, 2010 on grounds of unfair labor practice and union busting. Unfair labor practices consist of gross violations of their respective collective bargaining agreement, including unpaid wages and benefits. Union busting consists of illegal retrenchment and reduction work.
The labor dispute is being conciliated by NCMB Director Brenda Odsey. (Bulatlat.com)