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Philippines: Strike at EPZ ends as victory for workers

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19 February, 2015In a part of the Philippines well-known for imposing a “no-union, no-strike” policy, 500 workers in the Export Processing Zone in Cavite are celebrating a victory in union recognition and a concluded collective agreement.

Trade union members at Tae Sung Philippines Co. Inc., a Korean-owned company supplying metal parts for auto and electronics multinational companies, suffered months of intimidation. For seven months management tried to weaken the union by firing key officials as the union demand pay raises, union representation, and improved health and safety for the workers.

On 11 February management refused to bargain and the union responded by launching a strike. After a two-days, the union reached an agreement with management on most of their demands. Aside from a substantial pay hike, which was the most contested part of the deadlock in collective negotiation, the union was granted additional leaves and benefit packages. Aside from those gains, is the political victory of having a union recognition in a hostile environment such as the EPZ.

“The dispute is not only a concern for the 500 Tae Sung workers but for all 60,000 workers in one of the biggest export zone in the Philippines. They have been watching to see if the union can survive and negotiate a good contract.

“A win for the Tae Sung union will be a source of inspiration and provide others with courage and motivation to get organize and fight for their rights,” said the leader of Partido Manggagawa (Workers’ Party).