Jump to main content
IndustriALL logotype

Philippines: union leaders reinstated

28 April, 2021After fighting union busting at a Lululemon supplier in the Philippines, eight union leaders unfairly dismissed in 2019 and 2020, have been reinstated and a collective agreement has been negotiated.

In March 2019, IndustriALL affiliate Trade Federation on Garments, Textile, Footwear, Plastic, Leather and Allied Industries (TF2-FFW) established a local union at Charter Link Clark Inc., a Hong Kong-based apparel company that supplies to Lululemon, in Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga, Philippines.

The new union was met with union busting by company management. Four key union leaders were dismissed, and workers were forced to take a survey to choose between a trade union or a labour management committee, favoured by the company. Workers who failed to participate were suspended without pay.

When the union had secured the majority of signatures needed to seek recognition as the sole and exclusive bargaining agent (SEBA), the company quickly formed a yellow union to compete for recognition. However, TF2-FFW won the certification election and obtained the SEBA certificate in July 2019.

In order to thwart negotiations for a collective agreement, the company used Covid-19 as an excuse to force more than 100 workers – including all union officials – to go on indefinite unpaid leave. The union lodged complaints for unfair dismissals and illegal suspensions at the department of labour and employment (DOLE).

IndustriALL wrote to the company to demand that all union leaders were reinstated. Lululemon sent an expert to investigate the unfair labour practices.

Drawn-out mediation and labour court procedures eventually led to the reinstatement of eight union leaders with back wages and the signing of a collective agreement on 26 March this year. 

“The struggle for workers’ rights at Charter Link Clark is impressive and signing the collective agreement is a big achievement. TF2-FFW is committed to continue to build capacity to attain decent work,”

says Laudica Casana, TF2-FFW president.

The collective agreement includes employment security and group accident insurance for union members. Workers will enjoy medical subsidies, perfect attendance bonus, paid union leave, personal protective equipment. The union can now legitimately use factory space for union activities.

“Workers’ strength and determination prevailed at Charter link Clark, and in addition global solidarity from IndustriALL and affiliates helped achieve this union win,”

says Christina Hajagos-Clausen, IndustriALL textile director.