August 5, 2014
Labor group denounces MPSI and TUCP’s Sasin for string of dismissals, harassment of port workers
DAVAO CITY – Militant labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno Southern Mindanao denounced today the successive illegal dismissals and suspensions of unionists belonging to the Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Masters Port Services, Inc. (MPSI) (NAMMPSI-NAFLU-KMU) in an apparent crackdown of regular workers there who are critical of the company’s unfair labor practices. NAMMPSI-NAFLU-KMU is a union of rank and file port workers composed of fork lift operators, winch operators, pallet truck drivers, and checkers at the Unifrutti wharf for Masters Port Services, Inc. (MPSI), a company owned by Anthony Sasin, Director and Spokesperson of the Philippine Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) and at the same time, second nominee of TUCP Partylist. MPSI is based in Bo. Ilang, Davao City and is engaged in port and cargo services for export bananas.
Three union leaders – Darwin Berdera, Donald Berdera, and Carl Anthony Olalo, president of the said union – have already been dismissed without due process and based on trumped-up charges. Fifty five (55) workers have been threatened to be dismissed in succession in order to set an “example” not to go against MPSI management.
Carl Anthony Olalo, president of NAMMPSI-NAFLU-KMU, narrated that the crackdown began at the time the KMU- affiliated union challenged the incumbent union at MPSI, Association of Trade Unions (ATU)-TUCP, in a certification election last April 16, after the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA).
According to Olalo, they wanted to elect a new union to become the sole and exclusive bargaining agent (SEBA) because ATU-TUCP did nothing to stop unfair labor practices at MPSI. MPSI imposes heavy penalties on rank and file workers including illegal deductions stemming from material handling incidents such as dropped boxes. A fork lift operator can be fined to as high as P30,000 automatically without the benefit of a hearing. Workers are automatically suspended before they can be heard.
Olalo and other leaders gathered signatures to initiate the election process for a new union. However, in the middle of the election battle, NAMMPSI board members Donald and Darwin Berdera were written down by management in a fabricated complaint alleging serious misconduct and suspended for thirty (30) days in order to prevent them from gathering support from the workers-voters. Darwin Berdera was dismissed on May 23. Donald Berdera has not received a dismissal notice but has been barred from company premises. NAMMPSI did not emerge victorious at the election, garnering only 59 votes after MPSI management resorted to bribery and scare tactics in order to ensure ATU-TUCP’s win. Olalo, President of NAMMPSI-NAFLU-KMU was suspended for ten (10) days a week after the election and was dismissed on July 31.
Olalo said, “When NAMMPSI lost the election and ATU-TUCP was declared as SEBA, the backlash against the 59 who voted for NAFLU-KMU was extreme. We were dismissed for exercising a legitimate right provided under the law – the right to organize and freedom of expression. MPSI and Sasin did not respect those rights and instead forced us out of the company so that we can stop fighting for the workers.”
The union leader said that they have come out and exposed the abuses of MPSI and Sasin in order to claim justice for what was done to them and in order defend the jobs of their colleagues who are also being threatened to be dismissed.
“We are calling for everyone’s support in the struggle we face now. Being out of work even for a day is a big loss to any worker. We have families to feed, children to send to school and give financial support on a daily basis. What MPSI and Sasin did to our union and the workers is abusive and it must stop,” expressed Olalo.
Romualdo Basilio, secretary general of KMU Southern Mindanao condemned MPSI/Sasin and ATU-TUCP for conniving to expel the 59 MPSI workers, “Sasin and ATU-TUCP must be condemned for their harassment and betrayal of the workers. Despite being a nominee for a partylist group that claims to represent marginalized labor, Anthony Sasin is instead responsible for dispossessing workers of their right to jobs and security of tenure. Industrial peace to this capitalist-yellow union alliance means the absence of dissent and the silence of workers in the midst of injustice. We condemn this blatant abuse and disrespect for the law and we will do everything to hold MPSI and Sasin accountable.”
The workers will file a complaint with the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) and vow to take relentless collective action in order to stop MPSI and Sasin from abusing workers further. ###
Romualdo Basilio, secretary general, KMU Southern Mindanao, 09354512418
Carl Anthony Olalo, president, Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Masters Port Services, Inc. (NAMMPSI-NAFLU-KMU), 09123861000