Surigao dock workers end strike

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/06 October) — Dock workers at Surigao City base port ended on Friday their strike after their employer ended its contract on the same day with the Philippine Ports Authority-Surigao.

Members of the Surigao Dock Workers Union numbering 102 staged a strike against their employer, the Prudential Customs Brokerage Services Inc. (PCBSI) after the latter refused to increase their salary and benefits based on the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

PCBSI had an 8-year contract with the PPA’s Surigao Port Management Office that does the cargo handling and other port services but the contract ended on Friday.

The strike that began on August 24 had affected several businesses in Surigao del Norte, as the dock workers barricaded the port’s entrance and exit to cripple operations there.

Striking dock workers barricade the entrance and exit at the Surigao City Port on Friday (October 6, 2017). MindaNews photo by Roel N. Catoto

“Several ships including cargoes plying Surigao have had diverted their route to Lipata Port in Surigao, Cantilan Port in Cantilan town in Surigao del Sur and Nasipit Port in Nasipit town in Agusan del Norte,” said lawyer Roldan Calejesan, legal officer of PPA-Surigao.

Union president Artiquio Alciso said their employer did not grant salary increase and benefits as provided for in the CBA.

Alciso said they also staged three strikes in 2010 and 2012 for the same reason.

“We will end our strike and move out barricades at the port today as we ended our work contract with PCBSI,” he said.

With PCBSI contract having ended, PPA-Surigao will assume its functions to normalize operations at the port with the newly founded organization—the Surigao Port Services.

“The PPA will manage the operations of Surigao Port Services provided that the dock workers will be its priority workers until the PPA top management will find another cargo handling operator at Surigao port,” Calejesan said.

He stressed that PPA will employ the dock workers as job orders.

Former Surigao City councilor Jose Begil Jr., legal counsel of the dock workers said PCBSI has to settle the separation pay of its workers.

Herminigildo L. Daytoc, provincial director of the Department of Labor and Employment-Surigao del Norte said they will request the PCBSI to fasten the release of the separation pay to the dock workers.

“The dock workers are supposed to get the payment on the last day of its work, which is today, but because of this problem we will make another conference with PCBSI, PPA and its dock workers,” he said.

Ed Tidalgo, operations manager of PCBSI He did not attend the conference meeting Friday morning at PPA-Surigao.

But in a text message to MindaNews on Friday evening, he said:“It’s not true that we did not give them the increase. They are already enjoying 35 pesos increase from 2012 to 2017. On top of the wageboard mandated increase, they have 20 days leave credits a year.”

“They enjoyed guaranteed hours 40 and 48 per week even if not working and a lot more. They are very unreasonable asking for a 150-peso increase per day,” he added.

Several business owners in Surigao City felt relieved that the strike had ended.

“For over 40 days we cannot shipped our goods to Cebu using the Surigao Port because of ongoing strike, and all our cargoes from Cebu cannot be pulled out at Surigao Port because of this impasse,” said businessman Roney Leyson.

“I cannot transact my business. I can’t get supplies from Cebu. It takes so much time to get supplies for my printing needs because I need to get it in Nasipit Port,” he said.

Roll-on-roll-off vessels plying the Surigao-Siargao route had been diverted to Lipata Port, 10 kilometers away from the city proper.

Last September 15, cargoes that were impounded at the port due to the strike were released to their owners after the city government intervened.

“With this development, PPA management will inform shipping companies that the port strike has ended and they can continue to utilize the Surigao Port,” said the Calejesan. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)