Rosario, Cavite - Daeduck Employees Union (DEU) suffered a major blow in its fight to push for better workers conditions and benefits after the management of Daeduck Philippines Incorporated (DDPI) management terminated nine (9) officers of the said union including its president this September 23, 2011.

The termination was effected to DEUs officers namely:
Romeo Elcano, president; Jerson Ballena, Treasurer; and Board Members Lazaro Babagay Jr., Romil Veroya, Pepito Valete, Rio Comintan, Annalyn Escalante, Syrel Canites, and Nilo Serna.

The said termination came after from Federation of Unions of Rizal-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (FUR-TUCP) wrote a letter to DDPI management requesting the termination of said union officers. The said letter was signed by signed by its National President Eduardo B. Asuncion, National Executive Vice President Arturo A. Basea, and their appointed President Rizaldy Peji - Vice President of DEU.

Disaffiliation, Legal; Dismissal, Illegal

In FUR’s letter to DDPI then-President/CEO Dae Won Lee dated June 14, 2011, the federation requested DDPI management to dismiss DEU officers in accordance to Section 1 (c), Article III of their Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) which state:

(c) Loss of membership in the Union shall not be ground for dismissal by the company, except where loss of membership is due to any of the following causes:

i. Voluntary resignation from the union during the term of the Agreement or any extension thereof;

ii. Organizing or joining another Union in representation of the bargaining unit represented by the Daeduck Employees’ Union-FUR.

FUR claimed that the officers who signed in the resolution disaffiliating from the federation severed their relationship to the said federation and are considered resigned from the DEU-FUR Chapter for they cannot be officers of an FUR chapter and an independent union at the same time.

Elcano, DEU President however, vehemently denied that their independent registration yielded the formation of a new union.

“We strongly condemn FUR-TUCP claims that we organized a new union. According to Article 234-A of the Philippine Labor Code, an affiliate union has the constitutionally-guaranteed right to disaffiliate from its mother federation or national union that may be invoked at any time. The matter of a union disaffiliating from its mother federation does not create a new entity inside the company. What we have inside the DEU like our Vice President Rizaldy Peji whom FUR-TUCP allegedly appointed as President of their chapter in DDPI is one of the disgruntled minority officers who do not concur with the majority’s decision of disaffiliating from the federation. We feel bad for Zaldy (Peji) and others who usurpingly pose as officers of an FUR chapter that does not exist in the company anymore,” Elcano stressed out.

Elcano even furthered, “DEU and DEU-FUR is one and the same union. That is an undeniable fact that FUR-TUCP along with the DDPI management wanted to subvert. Consciously or not, what they are subverting is the law that states our legality and legitimacy.”

Since DEU filed its independent registration and disaffiliation from FUR-TUCP in June 2010 and February 2011, respectively, DDPI management harassed the union with no let up reaching the ultimate action of dismissing union officers from the company. FUR-TUCP’s letter stating Union Security Clause of the CBA as basis of their request to dismiss officers who filed for disaffiliation was consequently used by DDPI management to terminate said DEU officers.

“Our actions are well-covered by the law. The basis of our termination clearly violates the provisions of the labor code which states that our disaffiliation from FUR-TUCP does not violate the union security clause,” Elcano insisted.

From the first action of the management to harass unionists, the union stood its ground and held silent and peaceful actions that did not disrupt the flow of production in the company like red ribbon wearing. However, this was dealt by disciplinary actions and memorandum from the management. The events prompted the Office the Provincial Governor (OPG) to intervene to prevent the situation from escalating.

DDPI: No word of honor

Cavite Governor Juanito Victor ‘Jonvic’ Remulla, jr. called for a dialog on May 24, 2011 to settle the dispute between the DDPI management and DEU at the Provincial Capitol in Trece Martirez City.

Main issues in the dialog put forward by the DEU were harassment of the management to unionists by way of disciplinary actions and memorandum; termination of Leo Ian Ternida, DEU board member, without due cause; and isolation of Jerson Ballena, DEU treasurer. On the other hand, DDPI insisted that DEU should stop all of its protest actions within company premises.

In front of Gov. Remulla, a pact was reached and that a status quo shall be enforced where DEU shall stop all its protest actions and the management on the other hand shall refrain from harassing its workers and give Jerson Ballena, DEU treasurer a job description if returning him to his original station is not possible.

DEU implemented their side of the agreement and halted all its actions in protest of the DDPI’s harassment but, DDPI did not fulfill its side of the bargain and consequently disregarded the understanding agreed upon in front of the provincial governor.

Instead of implementing what has been concurred into, DDPI continued its actions against unionists of DEU. Another round of talks was again called by the office of Gov. Remulla in September 29, 2011 after DDPI terminated nine DEU officers and members held a picket in front of the production plant on September 28.

The dialog was attended by both parties, representatives from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and Philippine Economic zone Authority (PEZA). No agreement was reached in the said dialogue.

Hope of an Agreement

DEU also sought the assistance of the PEZA in writing the office of CEZ Administrator Atty. Norma Cajulis on September 23, 2011. In their letter, the union prayed that the office could bridge the differences between the union and the management and resolve issues thereof.

Romeo Elcano, DEU president said in an interview that the union opted to exhaust all venues possible to resolve the dispute due to the long and tedious process of court proceedings.

“At our union, we see that there are other legal personalities and bodies outside the court system where we could address our complaints. So we sought their help and told before them the things that we perceive as unfair actions against union members and officers,” Elcano said.

Elcano further stressed, “Though no decisions are being rendered yet, we do hope that the office of CEZ Administrator Atty. Cajulis would take action on our letter. We are not losing hope. DEU is always true to its words and respect the authority before us. DEU played its part in the agreement in the first dialogue with Gov. Remulla even though we are continuously attacked by the management. We are really saddened and distressed to see that the management who does exactly our opposite can’t be compelled to act accordingly to law.”

DEU hoped that the office of Atty. Cajulis would act on their issues against DDPI management such as the termination of the said union officers; threat that regular and contractual workers may be dismissed after joining the union; non-recognition of the union; gross violation of the CBA; and protesting workers restricted entry in the ecozone.

Violation of the CBA

After the disaffiliation, the union wrote a letter to DDPI President/CEO Lee praying to put in grievance several provisions of the CBA that are not being implemented.

Some of which were the check off remittance to FUR where deductions were made to employees but the union thru its duly designated officer does not receive any remittance since the CBA’s ratification; non-implementation of the of Wage Order No. IVA-14b implemented on the January 15, 2011; paid leaves; and union office.

Elcano said that the management refused to act upon their letter.

Strike Vote

DEU filed their notice of strike and conducted their strike voting in response to DDPI’s unfair labor practice where it violated the provisions of the existing CBA and union busting.

DEU conducted their strike vote on October 8, 2011 and witnessed by Mr. Reynaldo Caparas of the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) Regional Branch IV-A.

“The management pushed us to the brink. They left us with no option but to fight. As we prepare for our strike, we urge the authority to respect our right to strike against a management that blatantly violates workers’ rights and in turn does not respect local authorities,” Elcano appealed.