In a press release of the leftist Partido ng Manggagawa (Labor Party) published on Manila Indymedia last January 9, they claimed that “Furniture workers win major concessions as dispute settled”.
According to the press release, “The workers of Giardini del Sole,....one of the biggest furniture exporting company in the country, won major concessions in negotiations at the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) Region 7...”
What are these “victories” that the union claimed?
“Management and the union agreed on the following points:
1. Establishment of a joint evaluation team that includes the union, management and the DOLE/NCMB to rotate work among as many of the workers as possible. The joint evaluation team will also monitor the company’s performance and recall the workers when demand picks up.
2. Granting of financial assistance of PhP 5,000 and one sack of rice per month for the duration of the temporary shutdown. It will be deductible from separation pay in case of permanent closure.
3. No worker will be terminated and only voluntary resignations will be accepted.
4. Release of backwages for the holiday pay last December equivalent to three days salary.”
Because of this settlement, PM joyfully said, “The settlement averted the Giardini union’s plan to file a notice of strike on the basis that the temporary shutdown was illegal and a ruse for union busting.”
Since the union is now part of the evaluation team with the management and the state agency in discussing on how many workers will be “retain in rotation work” and recall the workers (those who will be retrenched or out of the job) when “demand picks up”, the union’s vice president proudly proclaimed, “workers (the union and not the workers) now have a voice in how the company will cope with the crisis.” It means that the union is now officially recognized as partner of the management and government in implementing the retrenchment for the employees to accept voluntarily.
What the unions are doing here in the Philippines is the same as what the unions doing in Europe and in other parts of the world: police in the company to prevent the workers in extending and generalizing their struggles.
In addition, unions help to sow reformist calls and actions helping to save the dying capitalist system as what the PM-Cebu spokesperson said on the “victory” of the Giardini workers: “the Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu unions that have been preparing for solidarity actions to the Giardini workers will now shift to campaigning for a bailout scheme for workers. According to PM-Cebu spokesperson, “The plight and fight of the Giardini workers highlight the imperative of a bailout package for workers affected by the crisis.”