Metal unions in the Philippines are to target suppliers of multinational companies that are violating workers’ rights in the country.
A campaign to strike at unscrupulous suppliers was launched on 3 March by IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, the Philippine Metalworkers Alliance (PMA). PMA will work in partnership with the Alliance of Labourers and the Youth (ALAY), a student-led movement, to fight for the rights of workers at Katolec Philippines, Moriroku, Sohbi Kohgei and Young Shin Tronics.
Three of the suppliers - Katolec Philippines, Moriroku and Sohbi Kohgei are located in special economic zones known for their bad anti-union policies.
The campaign aims to highlight the rampant harassment and violations of labour laws by the companies.
Testimonies from union leaders stressed the culture of impunity amidst continued violation of workers’ rights: “It is as if these companies are shielded with a special blanket that even the decisions of labour court are being ignored,” said a PMA representative.
“Katolec Philippines refuses to recognize our union and to collectively negotiate for better terms and conditions, despite our convincing win in the certification election second time round. Instead, the company has dismissed me for leading the union,” said Katolec Philippines Trade Union (KAPLU) president, Fermin Galicia.
With tears in her eyes, a KAPLU female board member stressed that all workers want is to live with a better wage and improved working conditions: “I have been with the company for 12 years and during that time I have only ever received a meagre wage, which is nowhere near enough to have a decent living,” she lamented.
At Moriroku in the Philippines, harassment and intimidation of workers started as soon as the union was formed, and focussed particularly on union officers. “As far as we know, we have not committed any violations or illegal act, we just want to exercise our right to form a union,” said Moriroku Philippines Workers Union president Joseph Aplicador. But this assertion has fallen on management’s deaf ears as the union president and vice-president have both been dismissed.
“Young Shin Tronics, a supplier to Samsung, does not get the point. All the workers want is to have a union that will represent their interests,” said Aplicador. “Workers in the company are just beginning to realize that it is difficult for them to struggle individually, to fight for their rights and to have better benefits, which is why they decided to act collectively,” he added.