Surigao pier strike settled

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 10 Nov) – An amicable settlement has finally been reached between management and labor union of the arrastre services operating at this city’s local port.

In a two-page memorandum of agreement, the Surigao Dockworkers Labor Union (SDLU) and the Prudential Customs Brokerage Services, Inc. (PCBSI) signed Friday the document that contained 25 items that included a salary increase of P8 per day starting June 2011 until 2012 and P9 per day in 2013.

Artiquio M. Alciso Jr., president of the SDLU, said the agreement was reached after a three-hour negotiation that resumed at 4 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. on Thursday. Negotiations were held in the morning of the same day at the office of the Department of Labor and Employment Office (DOLE) in Surigao del Norte with representatives from the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) but went on a break during lunch time as local officials of the arrastre firm said Manila officials will decide on their demands.

The wage issue was the most contentious but Alciso said they finally settled on the P8 increase.

“They finally agreed and we are fine with this since it’s the wage increase that is the focal issue of our demands,” he said.

The picket lines were immediately lifted around 9 p.m. Thursday, said Alciso.

PCBSI general manager Edilberto Tiu, in a text message today, said management is “happy” since the workers “understood us.”

“It was a win-win solution. NCMB had a big role in ensuring that we and the union understood each other,” Tiu said.

Key agreements

The salary adjustment is “on top of whatever regional mandated minimum wage” is in effect, the MOA cited in item No. 1 of the document.

Further, the incremental salary adjustments for the first and second year will be released on or before the end of December 2012 while the “compounded salary adjustment” will be on or before February 15, 2013.

“We are satisfied with this because we can now see some light in the future,” Alciso said.

The case of the three workers that were recently dismissed will also be re-opened, the MOA stated. A meeting is scheduled on Nov. 15.

The MOA noticeably also took note of the women workers, especially those who are victims of violence, giving them a “10-day leave” entitlement.

Item No. 14 also stipulated of a P1,865 premium for the health insurance of every employee.

Juanillo M. Garrido, operations manager of the arrastre firm, shared similar elation with the workers who resumed work early morning Friday. He said laborers and management have a “peaceful” relationship except that “this (previous) agreement (was not implemented.)”

All the other demands of the workers in relation to the previous MOA signed prior to the PCBSI management that started in 2009 will be discussed under a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The management and the union are set to meet again from Nov. 12 to 21 to agree on the vacation and sick leave, overtime pay, rice and educational subsidy, and several other benefits the union enjoyed before, Alciso said.

The formal signing of the CBA is scheduled on December 5.

Labor victory

Kilusang Mayo Uno Caraga regional president Edwin Batac said the recent victory of the arrastre workers is a reminder for the labor sector to be continuously vigilant as most capitalists do not implement the agreements signed.

“The struggle does not end because an agreement is already signed. Workers must keep watch if these agreements are implemented,” Batac said.

The labor leader said the workers’ movement in the city and Caraga region must always assert its democratic rights, especially those stipulated in the CBA. “Once this is not followed, the KMU will always lead in uniting the workers to act against this violation of basic right of workers,” Batac said.

Alciso said they are willing to go back to the picket line again if management fails to honor its obligations once more. (Vanessa L. Almeda / MindaNews)