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Vizcaya miners, Aussie firm settle labor dispute

The Philippine Star

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya , Philippines   â€“ A foreign mining company that operates a multibillion-peso gold project here agreed to settle its labor dispute with its union workers over the weekend, averting what could have been a costly work stoppage to one of the national government-sanctioned large-scale mining ventures.

Authorities said the signing of the first collective bargaining agreement between the management of the OceanaGold Philippines, Inc. (OGPI) and its workers would be held tomorrow with labor officials witnessing the ceremony at the project site.

“An agreement has been reached and we are happy to witness the dawn of a long-lasting industrial peace in this workplace,” said the National Conciliatory and Mediation Board of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in the region.

A local subsidiary of the Melbourne-based OceanaGold Co., OGPI was tapped by the government to undertake the gold-copper mining project in Barangay Didipio at the border of Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino.

The Didipio venture is one of the country’s first two large-scale mining projects approved during the Ramos administration under the revitalized 1995 Mining Act.

The project, whose workforce consists of 98 percent Filipinos – about 55 percent of whom are from the local communities – commenced commercial operation in May last year following nearly two decades of exploration and construction activities.

Before the settlement, the workers union, Kiphodan, voted to push through with their planned strike after the company allegedly failed to give in to their demand for a wage increase.

The union, which filed a notice of strike before the DOLE office here in December, has about 70 members, or about 20 percent of the company’s rank-and-file employees.

An OGPI insider said the workers were initially demanding a P3,000 per month across-the-board increase, which the firm described as unacceptable noting its ongoing cost-cutting measures due to the declining price of gold in the world market.

Labor officials mediated to resolve the impasse amid the company’s offer including additional compensation package to prevent a work stoppage.

Besides a P350 per month across-the-board pay increase for all employees, the workers who are residents of the mining site are entitled to a free breakfast at the project camp and 22 days off per year on top of the 10-day annual leave.

Brennan Lang, Didipio project general manager, said the workers are also given a six-day compassionate leave, cash or gift certificate equivalent to six cavans of rice per year, and a two-day calamity leave.

vuukle comment

BARANGAY DIDIPIO

BRENNAN LANG

DIDIPIO

KIPHODAN

MINING

MINING ACT

NATIONAL CONCILIATORY AND MEDIATION BOARD OF THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT

NUEVA VIZCAYA

NUEVA VIZCAYA AND QUIRINO

PROJECT

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