By ALMA SINUMLAG
SAGADA, Mt. Province – Three years after the workers of the Sagada Weaving organized themselves into a union, they are now facing harassment and intimidation from the employer leading to dismissal.
As of press time, five workers who are members of the Sagada Weaving Workers Union (SWWU) were indirectly dismissed from their jobs.
Agnes Capuyan, SWWU vice president, was the first to leave the company five months ago due to emotional and psychological stress. As recounted by the members of the union during a group discussion on October 10, their employer, Ezra Keithly Bondad Aranduque was always angry with Capuyan for accommodating other weaving jobs at home. Aranduque gave her a memorandum that she would be working on a take home basis since she has weaving equipment at home. When Capuyan resisted, the employer said that he would call her if there are job orders available for her. But up to this time, Capuyan did not receive any job order from the company.
This situation was also experienced by Marilou Ticlaen, Tessie Cayangen, Mary Udlos and Nellie Lonogan, all members of the union.”He wants us to get tired and volunteer to resign,” Felisa Calangeg said in Ilocano during the discussion. This, they said, is an act of the company to get rid of union members and be excused for the separation pay and other benefits.
In a discussion with Paul Belinan of the Cordillera Labor Center (CLC) during the third anniversary of SWWU in August this year, he explained that if there is no document from the company firing a worker and a worker resigns, the company is not accountable for any separation pay and other benefits.
Calangeg fears that she will be the next to experience these acts of the management because she is due to finish her job order in several days. Union members revealed that since they organized themselves, all of them are harassed and threatened through offensive remarks from their employer.
Calangeg further lamented that after the company squeezed all their strength for many years of working for the company, they are now being pushed away from their job.
According to Belinan, the case of Capuyan and the other four workers is a form of constructive dismissal. The harassment and intimidation faced by the workers, he said, is an act that eventually led the workers to resign.
For more than a year already, SWWU opted not to bring out the issues of harassment in the open hoping that the situation could be resolved between the union and the employer. Magdalena Tambiac, president of the union, said in a group discussion on August 29 that they wanted to break the notion that forming a union is an act to close a company down. They wanted to show that their purpose is only to assert their rights as workers.
“We do not want the company to perish. All we want is for the company to hear the issues of their workers,” she said. However, this effort of the union has come to its limit when they felt that all the members of the union are eventually being driven away from their workplace. (Northern Dispatch)