Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Struggle of Communication Workers of the Philippines (re PLDT union's struggle against job contractualization)

Bunga ng sangkatutak na kadahilanan, panloob at panlabas na salik, mukhang nagbabago na ang konteksto, character, hugis ng trade unionism, labor movements sa bansa. Ang kasalukuyang dinaranas ng mga manggagawa sa Pilipinas ay halos pinagdaanan na rin ng mga manggagawa sa Kanluraning Europa at Amerika may dalawang dekada (70s-80s) na ang nakalipas.

Pati ang uri ng kilos protesta't pakikibaka, nagbabago na rin. Ang isang malaking katanungan, tatagal pa ba't mag-survive pa kaya ang uring manggagawa sa Pilipinas?

- Doy Cinco / IPD
Oct 11, 2007
Securing Jobs in the ERA of Contractualization: Implications of the Mass
Dismissals at PLDT

Founded on November 28, 1928, Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) is the leading telecommunications provider in the Philippines. Through its three principal business groups – fixed line, wireless, and information and communication technology – PLDT offers the largest and the most diversified range of telecommunication services across the Philippines' most extensive fiver optic backbone and fixed line, cellular and satellite networks.

From a net income of P28 billion in 2004, income grew by P34.1 billion in 2005 and P35.1 billion by 2006. In the first six months of 2007, net income already reach P17.0 billion.

By 2004, the company's top brass who made P150,000 / month, got additional perks amounting to P1.0 million. The windfall included fifteen thousand share of stocks worth P9.0 million. They are now worth P39.0 million.

Diversification of services upped the requirement in manpower. This doubled the rank and file workers from 15,000 in 1997 to the present 30,000. A closer look revealed that the numbers of regular (and unionized) employees actually shrank dramatically.

How was this possible? PLDT offered 'juicy' early retirement packages (ERP) and gave vacated the positions to sub-contracted employees or 'spin-offed' to subsidiary companies owned by PLDT such as E-PLDT, VENTUS, PARLANCE.

Management got the same services for less via contractualization. At the same time denying regularly- hired workers the job (result: redundancy). In the case of PLDT, where the CBA protects the tenure of regularly hired employees by providing for job transfer, it also narrowed the employees' option for transfer to other PLDT jobs if and when they are threatened with dismissals through redundancy.


A weaker union and a predominantly contractual workforce set the stage for PLDT's plan of 'manpower reduction'.

By December 2002, 385 employees including two union officers were axed. Before the strike could break out, then Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas immediately assumed jurisdiction over the dispute issued and a return to work order to the striking workers and a no lock-out oder to the company, except towards those facing dismissal. The union contested the decision and got a favorable ruling by 2005 fronm the Supreme Court.

At the National Labor Relations Council (NLRC), the union filed a case of unfair labor practices against the PLDT Management for its violation of the above-mentioned provisions of the CBA. The case unfair labor practice against the PLDT management is still being heard by the Court of Appeals.

Yet, despite the union's victory in the first case and the pendency in court of the second case, 575 workers including 25 union representatives were terminated effective September 15. This time, the bulk of affected were women, some single mothers and breadwinners that gave 15-20 productive years in a company eager to throw them over like yesterday thrash.

Fighting The Grim Future of Labor
Recently, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said the strikes are down to three in the past nine months. Far from being an indicator of budding industrial peace, lack of strikes is proof that the Assumption Jurisdiction Order is now a weapon for suppression and eventual union-busting rather than the first step towards mediation. It allows brazen companies like PLDT to do as it pleases while forbidding the union to take action in return.

Along with contractualization, problem arising from AJ are problems faced by the organized section of labor. Job security and the concomitant right to organize and bargain collectively are at risk. Firms like General Milling and Robina Farms where the ratio of regular workers to contractual workers rendered the union inutile, losing its capability to defend and assert workers' rights and interests.

The struggle of Mangggawa sa Komunikasyon ng Pilipinas (MKP), the rank and file union is a struggle for itself and for its class. Concretely, it is a bid to secure the future of labor in an era of further 'flexibilization'-- a mss of casuals moving as free as capital, voice-less, unorganized and equally free to be exploited by capitalists. As one of the few surviving national unions in the labor scene today, all eyes are on PLDT as the outcome would surely set a precedent. ------/////-------

Communication Workers of the Philippines
c/o 22 Libertad st., Mandaluyong City
Tel.Nos: (02) 5310787 / Fax: 5313748

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