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Labor union nears strike

BY CHRYSEE G. SAMILLANO

Wennie Sancho (left) and Ricky Langrio*

Members of the Philippine Agricultural Commercial Workers Union (PACIWU) United KCI Labor Union are planning to stage a labor strike against a bio-fuel firm in Talisay, Negros Occidental if no settlement is reached with the management concerning their demand for wage increase.

Ricky Langrio, union president, yesterday said they have reached a deadlock in their demand for wage increase during the negotiation because the management of KOOLL Company Inc. has not offered any specific amount. So, there was nothing to discuss in the economic provision of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

They have a proposed an increase of P200 a day for the first year but the management presented them a salary scale instead. However, they are still open for negotiation and do not want things to end up in a labor strike. Instead, they want to maintain industrial peace since their intention is to help the company, he said.

Langrio said the company has been operating for about 50 years and has about 170 employees including management. Out of the 170 employees, only 85 are union members.

Wennie Sancho, PACIWU representative and secretary general of the General Alliance of Workers Associations (GAWA), said negotiation for a CBA would have started early this year, had it not been for the legal maneuver of KCI management to nullify the Sole and Exclusive Bargaining Agent (SEBA) of the rank-and-file employees issued by the Department of Labor and Employment 6.

The United KCI Labor Union had filed three notices of strike (NOS) on March 15, July 5, and October 1. The last NOS was filed due to the deadlock on the economic provisions of the proposed CBA, Sancho said during a press conference held yesterday in Bacolod City.

“It is not our intention to use this press conference as a platform to attack or malign any party, particularly the management of KOOLL Company, but rather an opportunity for discussing issues that might lead to probable solutions in the light of the National Conciliation Mediation Board’s (NCMB) effort to continue the mediation-conciliation proceedings during the cooling off period,” he said.

Sancho said the labor union and its officers including the leadership of PACIWU wanted this labor dispute resolved in as much as the exercise of a strike while guaranteed by law, may also bring disastrous effect to both parties and could lead to animosities and wounded feelings.

He stressed that the PACIWU United KCI Labor Union does not intend to kill the goose that lays the golden egg. The union only wanted to assert that it is entitled to just and equal share of the fruits of its labor. If management will give what is due for the workers and treat them as partners in progress, then there will be industrial peace, he said.

Despite the overwhelming result of the strike vote in their favor, they do not close the door for dialogs and mediation under the supervision of the NCMB, Sancho said.

However, it is crucial that there should be a change of heart on the part of the KOOLL management that would substantially amend their counter-proposal in consideration of the rights and needs of the workers without prejudice to the interests of the company, he said.

Unless there is a substantial offer from management on the proposed increases on the salaries and wages of the workers and the exclusion of onerous provisions in the counter-proposals of the management, this deadlock could develop into a full-blown labor strike, Sancho added.

Meanwhile, Sancho clarified that he does not claim to have organized the union even if he is the PACIWU representative. It is the officers of the United KCI Labor Union who organized it.*

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