KMU cries foul vs. lay-off of 93 port workers

May 15, 2011

KMU cries foul vs.  lay-off of 93 port workers Davao City-  Ten days after marking the International Labor Day last May 1, union workers of Filipinas Port Services Inc., were dismayed when they learned that 93 of their colleagues were terminated–a move believed to be in retaliation to a case for regularization they filed at the labor department. The 93 dismissed workers, who are also active union members under Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Filport which is an affiliate of NAFLU-KMU, have been working as forklift operators, stevedores, checkers and winch operators for the last five to 10 years. Filport’s cargo handling operation for domestic and foreign vessels started in 1977 and employs more than 400 workers. Alex Tuazon, President of the NAMAFIL-NAFLU-KMU, condemmned the illegal dismissal last May 11 as a ”blatant attack on workers’ rights, symptomatic of the national trend of labor flexibilization and anti-worker policy of contractualization.” Under the Article 281 of the Labor Code, the probationary employment shall not exceed six (6) months from the date the employee started working, further stipulating that “an employee who is allowed to work after a probationary period shall be considered a regular employee.” “This is the very reason why our union filed a complaint at the National Labor Relations Commission for the regular employment of our colleagues. The lay-off shows how oppressive and deceptive the Filport management is,” Tuazon explained. Tuazon said, “the management has been violating the rights of these 93 workers who have been working in the company for so long. Our union is fighting for what is due us but what Filport did was a concrete display of greed and refusal to subscribe even the most basic of labor laws.” Aside from the issue of regularization, the union is also complaining against blatant unfair labor practices, among which include underpaid overtime and premium pay and forcing workers to pay for damaged products in the course of the production. Meanwhile, Romualdo Basilio, Chairperson of Kilusang Mayo Uno-SMR, cited that in Davao region, only 20,757 out of 1,724,000 workers are enjoying minimum wages and benefits– less than 2% of  the region’s total workforce. He also expressed disgust over the continuing failure of the Aquino regime to resolve labor issues and the problem of lack of job tenure noting that, in Davao region alone, 97 % of the workers remain contractuals.###

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