Cebu News

Kepco unions strike averted anew

Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - The scheduled strike of two employees unions of Kepco- Salcon Power Corporation did not push through yesterday after the Department of Labor and Employment intervened by assuming jurisdiction over the ongoing labor dispute.

“We are 100 percent ready to go on with our strike, but the secretary of DOLE issued an order of assumption of jurisdiction. We want to show that we are a responsible union. We will not defy her order bisan wa mi niya gihatagan og chance to exercise our right to strike,” Lowell Sanchez, president of the Kepco Supervisors Employees Association-Workers Solidarity Network, said yesterday.

The order was issued by DOLE Secretary Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz.

Last May 1, when the two unions were about to go on strike, President Benigno Aquino intervened through Baldoz.

In her order dated August 20, 2015, Baldoz certified that the sole issue at hand, which is Sanchez’ termination, is valid for compulsory arbitration with the National Labor Relations Commission.

Sanchez, however, said they do not agree with the DOLE order but are left with no choice.

“Wa mi nakauyon aning compulsory arbitration kay kasaga-ran mga kaso nganha kay lutong-makaw na pero wa mi mahimo… we will attend the hearings once ma-schedule na,” said Dennis Derige, spokesperson of the Partido ng Manggagawa-Cebu.

Baldoz added that any intended strike or lockout or any protracted action is enjoined automatically.

“The parties are enjoined from committing any act that may further exacerbate the situation,” the order reads.

The order also reiterates and adopts “for observance by both parties” three items in the proposed agreement developed over a series of conciliation and mediation. These include:

a. Kepco and Kepco Cebu Employees Association-WSN, the rank and file union, will accept the result of the decision of DOLE secretary on the appeal of the former from the April 13, 2015 mediator -arbiter’s order and will no longer appeal the same;

b. in case the DOLE secretary denies KEPCO’s appeal, KCEA-WSN will submit and file the Collective Bargaining Agreent proposal of the rank-and-filr employee;

c. as to the termination of Sanchez, KEPCO will adopt the National Conciliation and Mediation Board’s proposal to suspend  the effects of its termination insofar as the basic pay of Sanchez is concerned for a 30-day period.

To recall, Sanchez was terminated by the management last March for allegedly assisting the creation of the rank-and-file union, an allegation he denies.

On April this year, KCSA-WSN and the KCEA-WSN filed their notice of strike.

Effective May 1, Sanchez was reinstated on payroll but he was terminated again last June 2, which prompted KCSA-WSN to file its second notice of strike. A few days later, the KCEA-WSN filed the same.

“Karon ra gyud ni na-hitabo sa history sa Philippine labor nga ang usa ka presidente sa union kay ge- reinstate na og katulo,” said Jose Tomongha of WSN.

“We cannot afford to gamble public service and operations of vital industries on termination issue,” the order reads.

KEPCO-SPC generates approximately 1/3 of Cebu’s 600 mw requirement and supplies not only Cebu province but also parts of nearby islands like Leyte, Panay and Negros.

Earlier, KSPC spokesperson, lawyer Alan Fontanosa, said any strike of the union is considered illegal and union officials who will join the same may be dismissed from service. — /JMO (FREEMAN)

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