INSTEAD of taking their labor concerns to the streets, 76 of the 300 laid-off workers of a garment company operating inside the Mactan Economic Zone (MEZ) 1, are filing a lawsuit for alleged illegal dismissal and union busting.
On Friday, Jan. 29, 2021, executives of First Glory Phils. Inc., and its labor union reached a compromise agreement after several rounds of mediation-conciliation meetings were brokered by the Lapu-Lapu City Government.
First Glory Apparel, which manufactures apparel which, US-based brand J. Crew, filed for bankruptcy in May 2020.
In an interview, Public Employment Service Office head Kim Francisco told SunStar Cebu they have successfully averted a planned physical rally against a locator in MEZ 1.
“This is a win, a victory for everyone. I just want to maintain industrial peace in our industries or establishments in Lapu-Lapu City. And with the coronavirus pandemic, a strike is something we don’t want if we want to implement social distancing to prevent transmission,” Francisco said.
He said the union leaders will file a case at the National Labor Relations Commission through the help of Partido Manggagawa, a labor party.
SunStar Cebu tried to get the side of the company, but it has yet to issue a statement.
Around 300 employees of First Glory Apparel were laid off, including union officials, in November 2020.
A rally they staged on Nov. 30, 2020 was disbanded by the police that led to the arrest of First Glory labor union president Cristito Pangan and four labor organizers.
Pangan insisted that “First Glory management is using losses due to lost orders as its alibi for retrenchment. However, its main customer already exited from bankruptcy in September. Further, production is in full swing and workers are asked to report for duty even on holidays and Sundays.”
“The labor dispute at First Glory is symptomatic of the epidemic of labor rights violations during the time of Covid. Employers are exploiting the Covid-19 crisis to bust unions and shift to contract work,” he said.
According to Pangan, their protest against First Glory was triggered by the mass layoffs at other garment firms in the Mactan ecozone, where some of the laid-off employees were union officers.
Since the pandemic began last year, more than 4,000 MEZ workers have been laid off. (JOB)