Filipino-owned cement company in Surigao may shut down operations

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 29 April) – Workers at the Pacific Cement Company (PACEMCO) here are worried that the firm may shutdown operations anytime this week mainly due to millions of pesos in unpaid power bills.

Edwin Batac, president of the PACEMCO Mamumuo Nagkahiusa (PAMANA), said today that department managers have relayed information Friday last week that “there will be shutdown in operations.”

According to Engr. Narciso I. Caliao Jr., general manager of the Surigao del Norte Electric Cooperative (SURNECO), PACEMCO has an unsettled account worth at least P25 million.

The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), he said, has asked SURNECO to disconnect power supply to the cement plant today.

MindaNews tried contacting PACEMCO management since Saturday but got no reply.

Batac said the company apparently has financial problems. He revealed there were talks on PACEMCO’s merger with cement giant La Farge-Holcim but failed.

He said PACEMCO has at least 400 regular workers.

The union, he added, is ready for talks with management on how to avert a shutdown.

The cement company, according to Batac, has two power generators but only one is working, which he said is not enough to run the entire plant. Furthermore, relying on generators would even be more expensive, he pointed out.

PACEMCO, the only cement company in Caraga Region, is the only remaining Filipino-owned and controlled cement company. It started its commercial operations in 1967. The company produces 500,000 to 700,000 bags of cement per month.

In January 2012, workers staged a protest inside the cement plant because of delayed release of wages, bonuses and other benefits.