Strike vote wins in union election

Herty B. Lopez

MAJORITY of the Visayan Electric Company Employees Union (VECEU) decided to go on strike in a voting conducted Monday, Feb. 3, 2020.

The strike vote came as the Visayan Electric management said it has signed the final draft of the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and the document is awaiting the signature of the union negotiating panel.

It also said operations would not be affected if the workers were to go on strike.

Out of 131 employees, 121 voted to go on strike while seven said no. There were other votes that were considered invalid after the ballots showed “Yes” instead of a check mark on the proper box, based on the rules set by the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) of the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole).

Members of the VECEU - National Federation of Labor Unions - Kilusang Mayo Uno (VECEU-NAFLU-KMU) filed a notice of strike before the Dole in Central Visayas earlier on Friday, Jan. 31.

The notice of strike was filed before the NCMB against the electric company’s management after the latter reportedly failed to comply with the CBA agreed upon during a meeting with Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Sept. 6, 2019.

The strike vote was held at the company’s engineering centers in Barangay Banilad in Cebu City and in Barangay Tabunok, Talisay City.

In an earlier statement, members of the VECEU-NAFLU-KMU said management reneged on its end of the agreement to comply with the CBA by delaying its approval since the start of their negotiations back in January 2017.

The employees union submitted its draft CBA on Sept. 17, 2019 and met with management on Oct. 23 of the same year.

But union members claimed management refused to implement the CBA as it needed to be clarified by Bello first.

Even though Bello had decided that the CBA was already final and executory, the Visayan Electric management reportedly refused to implement it as it wanted its lawyers to look at the CBA first, union members claimed.

In a notice of resolution issued by Bello, the Visayan Electric was given 15 days to execute three issues raised by the union to the company.

The three issues as contained in a Dole order are the grant of meal subsidy to employees who go on overtime, no employee will be forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement and P1,750 in salary increase will be given to each employee every year. The agreement was made in November 2019.

In a statement, management said, “Contrary to VECEU’s claim, the Visayan Electric Company has already signed its final draft of the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that incorporates the Dole order, for transmittal to and signature of the VECEU negotiating panel.”

The power firm also assured the public that operations would not be affected should the workers stage a strike.

The union is prevented from taking any action for 22 days from the holding of the strike vote.