‘Contractualization in our company resulted in union busting, illegal termination of employees, and, ultimately, left our families starving.’ – Esmeraldo Ison, TMC&F Union President


Esmeraldo Ison, TMC&F union president, (second from left) explains to Sec. Bello (second from right) the real motive of C&F management in dismissing 98 workers while Usec. Maglunsod (first from left) notes down pointers and Kristine Llagas, SCW Chairperson (first from left) intently listens to the discussion.

Independent union Tinig ng mga Manggagawa sa C&F Mfg. Phils. (TMC&F) with labor alliance Solidarity of Cavite Workers (SCW) and independent labor non-government organization Workers Assistance Center (WAC) in Cavite urged the newly-installed Duterte administration through its labor agency – Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), to keep its promise of ending contractualization by unconditionally and immediately reinstating the recently 98 summarily dismissed regular workers at the Irish-owned C&F Manufacturing Phils. Corp. at First Industrial Estate (FCIE) in Dasmariñas City, Cavite.

TMC&F and SCW were already lined up in front of the DOLE office for their silent picket protest calling out C&F C&F management for dismissing 98 regular workers including all of its union officers and most of its members from March to June 6 that busted their union before Sec. Bello arrived several minutes before 8:00 in the morning of July 4, 2016.

The workers were asking Sec. Bello to move fast to protect the regular jobs and their union on the continued onslaught of labor-only contracting (LOC) in the labor sector.

Cavite is teeming with 37 operating and proclaimed economic zones and industrial estates with most of the local and foreign-owned companies are using agency-supplied contractual workers from labor-only contractors. LOC is unlawful under the Philippine Labor Code.

Dialogue with Top DOLE Officials

Before Sec. Bello went in the DOLE building he told the all the picketing workers to go up later in order for them to talk.

After the flag-raising ceremony, the group went up the hall where the supposed agency’s senior officials meeting will take place.

Sec. Bello accompanied by new Labor Undersecretary Joel Maglunsod talked to the group as their first order of the day before their official meeting.

TMC&F Union President Esmeraldo Ison raised the seriousness and urgency of their predicament as 98 of the regular workers were illegally dismissed by the C&F management because of their union activities leaving them with no income to support their families.

Sec. Bello before the meeting commenced called for the presence of DOLE Region IVA Director Zenaida Campita in the dialogue and asked the official if the situation in the union had been brought to her attention since the union went all the way to the office of the secretary in order for their problem to be heard.

Dir. Campita said to Sec. Bello that she had knowledge of the TMC&F situation since the report was handed to her office last Friday regarding the inspection in the C&F plant that the agency conducted last June 20. She furthered that after the 10-day compliance period lapses; she will call for a mandatory hearing before releasing an order regarding the various labor and occupational safety and health standards violations of the company, especially the issue of LOC.

The DOLE-Cavite office found out in its June 20 investigation that the C&F Mfg. Phils. Corp. has indeed hired new workers from contractors to operate the machines left by the regular workers. The union is still waiting for concrete actions from DOLE-Cavite’s provincial director Engr. Ignacio Sanqui against the operations of the labor-only contractors.

Aside from unconditional reinstatement, the union demanded to end the operations of the three labor-only contractors in the company that supplies more than 200 contractual workers in the company.

The Sec. Bello said that that TMC&F’s case will be his first union case to handle being the new secretary of the labor department as the union was also the first to talk with them. The secretary later committed to personally monitor the progress of the case and told Usec. Maglunsod to do as well.

He also asked Dir. Campita to update him with the progress of the case and expedite the resolution of the case since the workers and their families are suffering and going hungry by now.

The one-hour dialogue was cordial and light interjected by short burst of laughter from both sides.

The workers are somehow pleased with the result of the dialog and is welcome to work with the labor agency in order to stop the menace brought about by LOC in the workers sector.

The said dialogue also gave the workers an impression that change indeed has come with the new Duterte Administration in tow and it was something to look forward to positively in the days come.

The group left after taking group photos with the DOLE officials since TMC&F will hold its strike voting from 2:00-6:00 in the afternoon at WAC’s office in Rosario, Cavite.

Union Busting and Contractualization

TMC&F cries union busting against the Irish management after it summarily dismissed 87 of its regular workers including all union officers and almost all of its members on June 6, 2016, hours after the union filed its Petition for Certification Election (PCE), at DOLE-Cavite Office. PCE is a process through election in determining workers exclusive representative in the collective bargaining negotiation with the management.

Management reasons for mass lay off of regular workers are due to declined order from main customer, financial loss, production inefficiency, and increased total labor cost from 12% in 2014 to 22% in 2016. However, none of these reasons are true, according to the dismissed workers. They said that the real and sole reason is simply Union Busting so that the company can easily get rid of the regular workers to be replaced b y the agency-supplied contractual workers.

Immediately after terminating the regular workers, the management hired about 150 contractual workers from three (3) labor-only contractors namely Terumi, AED, and E-Pipol.

Ison said prior to the dismissal of 87 workers, 11 workers from their rank were already dismissed while they were still organizing their union from March to May this year. He further said that two previous attempts by other workers to organize a union in earlier months of February and in March were also busted and led to the forced dismissal of 12 union leaders.

Ison said that the management has long been planning for the removal of regular workers in the company to replace them with contractual workers because said workers are cheaper and without security of tenure.

When the management suddenly implemented stifling rules and regulations that are not found in their Company Rules and regulation (CRR) handbook and questionable disciplinary actions led to suspensions and summary dismissal of workers and dramatic increase of contractual workers in the production line, the workers promptly organize their union in order to safeguard their regular jobs.

Workers also complained the ‘racist attitude’ towards them by Irish-natives Paul Hynes and Damian Gavin who are the production and general managers of the company respectively.

“They looked down on us by shouting, cursing, and using insulting words even if they were just giving instructions,” Ison recalled.

After TMC&F was registered on May 26, the management hastily offered a Voluntary Separation Program (VSP). The workers snubbed the VSP which led to the illegal and forced retrenchment.

Strike Voting

The strike voting held at WAC’s office in Rosario and witnessed by representatives from DOLE IV-A were concluded two hours before the time deadline.

With a total of 49 voters, the union gained 48 votes in favor of the union staging a strike with one spoiled ballot.

According to the labor code before any registered union can stage a strike, the union must conduct a strike vote and wait for the 30-day cooling off period should the union wins.

C&F Mfg. Phils. Corp. is a supplier to IT/electronics companies such as APC-Schneider Electric, IBM, and WMC. Its CEO and President is Mr. John Flaherty of the C & F Group. He is based at C & F Tooling Ltd., Cashla, Athenry. Co Galway, Ireland according to its website www.cftooling.ie.

C&F Mfg. Phils. Corp started its operation in the Cavite Economic Zone (CEZ) in Rosario Cavite in 2004 before relocating in FCIE on October last year.