Friday, June 25, 2004

Philippines government orders strikers back to work

Striking day and swing shift workers at a Taiwanese electronics exporter in Subic Bay industrial estate were last week given 14 hours by the Philippines Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to return to work. DOLE claimed that the strike, which began on June 16, threatened the economic interests of the country.

The small company, Taian (Subic) Electronic Inc. (TSEI), employs just 144 workers. Acting Labor Secretary Manuel Imson claimed “a prolonged stoppage of the [TSEI] operation will deprive the [Philippines] economy of very much needed foreign revenues” and “may act as a deterrent to investors to invest in our economic zone”.

Union spokesman Jimmy Mamolo said the union had been surprised when at 9 p.m., on June 16, while at the picket line, he was served with a DOLE order to vacate the area or face dispersal by Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) law enforcement officers.

The strike is over unfair labour practices, especially harassment, illegal transfer of machines, union busting and illegal suspension of employees. The union is also demanding that perjury cases against two union officials be dropped. DOLE has asked the National Labor Relations Commission to resolve the dispute within 30 days

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

DOLE cites ‘national interest’ in stopping Subic Bay strike

SUBIC BAY FREE­PORT—Calling the continued operation of a Taiwanese firm here as “indis­pensable to the national interest,” the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Wed­nesday night assumed jurisdiction over the labor dispute between the firm’s workers and management, and issued an order to a group of striking workers to return to work or face dispersal.

Acting Labor Secretary Manuel Imson, through his chief of staff, the lawyer Luzviminda Padilla, ordered some 30 day-shift and swing-shift employees of electric devices manufacturer Taian (Subic) Electric Inc. (TSEI) to return to work within 24 hours upon receipt of the order and the management to accept them under the same terms and conditions prevailing before the strike.

The workers had declined to go to work and staged a strike, holding pickets in front of the company outside the Taiwanese-developed industrial park.

“A prolonged stoppage of the [TSEI] operation will deprive the economy of the very much-needed foreign revenues and may act as a deterrent to investors to invest in our economic zones. The same will adversely affect the employment- and revenue-generation program of the government,” the labor department’s order stated.

“In the light of the foregoing, and considering the effects of a prolonged work stoppage at the company, there is no doubt that the continued operations of the company is indispensable to the national interest,” the order further stated.

The labor department also asked the National Labor Relations Commission to resolve the dispute within 30 days.

The order was questioned by Jimmy Mamolo, head organizer of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) Subic district, who said there was no reason for the labor department to issue an order yet, because no party has filed a petition and the strike was just on its first day.

“We were surprised because at around 9 in the evening of June 16 at the picket line, we were served the [labor department] order and was told to leave the area or face dispersal from the SBMA law enforcement department who arrived at the scene together with SBMA labor manager, [the] lawyer Severo Pastor,” Mamolo said.

TSEI makes electric devices for export and employs about 144 people working in three shifts.
Relations between the manage­ment and the company’s labor union, the Taian Subic Employees Union, soured in the last few months after the union, headed by its president Jeffrey Palatulon, filed a notice of strike with the labor department’s National Conciliatory and Mediation Board regional branch in San Fernando, Pampanga.

The union cited as grounds unfair labor practice, specifically harassment, illegal transfer of machines, union busting and illegal suspension of employees.
On May 6, 2004, balloting con­ducted by the union showed an overwhelming majority of the members were for staging a strike.

Mamolo said the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, through its labor center, tried to mediate on the dispute between TSEI labor and management for more than a month but nothing was resolved.

During these meetings, Mamolo said the union deman­ded that management withdraw the perjury case it filed against Palatulon and union secretary Jebeth Moran.

“Ayaw talaga iatras ng manage­ment ang perjury case na isinampa nila sa president and secretary ng union, kaya the workers staged this June 16 strike,” Mamolo said.

The striking workers initially tried to assemble at the front gate of the company inside the industrial park at around 7:30 in the morning of June 16 but security men of the Subic Bay Develop­ment and Management Corp. (SBDMC) belonging to a private security agency intervened and asked the strikers to move out of the industrial park because it was a private and restricted area.

Robert Deano, detachment commander of the industrial park security, told the workers they cannot stage a strike within the premises of the industrial park because they have no permit from SBDMC and that such activity is prohibited in the area

Friday, June 18, 2004

Zambales judge falls in entrapment

Inquirer News Service

IBA, Zambales-A municipal trial court judge in this town was arrested by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation after he allegedly asked P15,000 from three people involved in a land dispute pending in his courtroom.

Reports said Judge Conrado Alinea was caught while receiving the marked bills from Jose Abdam, one of the complainants in the case.

In a sworn affidavit, the complainants said Alinea asked the money in exchange for the resolution of the case in their favor.

Abdam said the regional trial court of Zambales earlier issued a writ of demolition for some illegal structures on his land and Alinea was asked to issue a writ of execution on the court's order.

But Abdam said Alinea recalled the writ of execution and set it aside.

Alinea, after withdrawing the demolition order, called for a hearing on June 11, the affidavit said.

After the hearing, the complainants asked Alinea's explanation on the recall order.

They said the judge then told them that if they could produce P15,000, he would issue the writ of demolition and execution.

The complainants then sought the help of their lawyer, Gerry Montefalcon, and the latter advised them to ask the help of the NBI to entrap Alinea.

When the judge was arrested at 1:40 p.m. on Thursday, Alinea said he did not touch the money.

Alinea was taken to the NBI Central Luzon office in Pampanga to test if he was positive for ultraviolet powder that the NBI used to mark the bills.

Alinea is facing charges of robbery and extortion and violation of the anti-graft and corrupt practices act