Cebu workers to protest planned factory closure

2/16/10 - MANILA, Philippines - More than 100 workers from Alta Mode Incorporated are set to start a protest action Tuesday outside Mactan Export Processing Zone (MEPZ) II to stop the closure of the garment factory.

The workers filed their notice of strike at the National Conciliation Mediation Board (NCMB) in Cebu City last February 11, after the company announced its closure.

Members of Alta Mode Workers Union held a protest rally Monday noon after the workers were banned from coming inside MEPZ II, 30 days before the scheduled date of closure on March 15. Union president Renante Paliño said that the company only told them that they were losing so they will shut down operation of the factory.

Paliño, however, said that the real reason for the abrupt closure is union busting.

“The workers are not buying Alta Mode’s line that they are losing money. They want to shutdown the factory because they do want to face organized workers who assert their rights and fight for their welfare,” said Paliño.

Alta Mode is an exporter and subcontractor for global brands such as Abercrombie & Fitch. The company has been in MEPZ II since 1999.

Premer Almojallas has been one of the factory’s sewers for almost 11 years. He said that the company used to be kind to the workers.

But after a few years, he said they started losing their benefits like the 13th-month pay, so the workers decided to create a union to protect themselves. But Almojallas said the company’s management has been trying its best to break them.

Paliño said that the last time they had a talk with the company’s Human Resource manager, they were offered a separation package.

The workers, however, refused to accept the package. Instead, they wanted to have their jobs back and the company to take back its closure plan.

Regional Director of Department of Labor and Employment in Central Visayas Elias Cayanong said that the company already informed them on the scheduled closure.

He said the matter has already been forwarded to the NCMB office. Cayanong said that NCMB is hoping to settle the matter and prevent the company’s closure.

Cayanong refused to give out more details as the matter is yet to be settled.

ABS-CBN Cebu tried to get the side of the company management but they are unavailable. (abs-cbnnews)

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