Cebu News

Sports city labor dispute: Group slams legal maneuvers at MEZ

Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon - The Freeman
Sports city labor dispute: Group slams legal maneuvers at MEZ

CEBU, Philippines —  Labor group Partido Manggagawa has slammed the suspension of the proceedings for certification election in three Sports City factories at the Mactan Economic Zone (MEZ).

Dennis Derige, PM-Cebu spokesperson, accused Sports City of legal maneuverings to subvert the workers’ exercise of freedom of association. Derige claimed that the factories succeeded in delaying the holding of the certification election by appealing before the Office of the Labor Secretary.

 “Gi-hold in abeyance niya ang certification election. Abuse of discretion ang gihimo ni Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello. The Office of the Labor Secretary takes cognizance of the appeal of the management,” Derige said.

 Derige said the decision of the mid-arbiter that a certification election shall be held is supposed to be final under Section 19 of the Labor Code of the Philippines.

 “We call on the Department of Labor and Employment to implement the law and the rules which absolutely guarantee the holding of a certification election despite an appeal by the employer,” Derige said.

The Sports City group of companies employs some 14,000 workers and is the biggest employer at the MEZ. The said company also terminated over 4,000 workers in October last year.

Petitions for certification election by rank-and-file unions in Metrowear, Globalwear and Mactan Apparel, and a supervisory union in Globalwear were earlier granted and objections by management were dismissed.

Derige said that the certification election at Sports City is a test case on the respect for freedom of association in the ecozones.

“In MEZ not a single union exists with a collective bargaining agreement due to the pernicious union busting efforts of capitalists. This has led to wage stagnation for workers despite decades of economic growth and productivity rise,” he said.

Aside from the four petitions in Sports City, another petition for certification election is pending at First Glory Philippines.

A labor dispute has erupted at First Glory after the mass layoff of 300 workers, including all of the union officers, last November 27. Last December 22, members of the First Glory labor union voted overwhelmingly to go on strike.

The mediation hearing the other day was attended by Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard Chan but ended without any agreement reached.

“The workers were asked by the mayor that no strike will be done until Friday kay basin magkasinabot pa. Naay win-win solution si mayor mao na out of respect niya, no action lang sa mi until Friday,” Derige said.

He said that union members at First Glory can go on a strike anytime after Friday, should there be no agreement between them and the management.

Derige said that the First Glory union wanted that the 300 terminated workers will be reinstated but the management refused and instead offered to pay 15 days equivalent salary for every year of service.

“Wala man nagkasinabot. So, this Friday will be our last day of conciliation,” Derige said.

“The mass layoffs and labor disputes at First Glory and Sports City are symptomatic of the epidemic of labor rights violations during the time of COVID. Employers are exploiting the covid-19 crisis to bust unions and shift to contract work,” the labor group said.—  FPL (FREEMAN)

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