[WAC news alert] Strikers at Wal-Mart supplier attacked anew for a two million contract price

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Workers' Assistance Center

Jun 12, 2007, 9:38:44 AM6/12/07
to WAC news alert
A press release by the Workers Assistance Center, Inc. (WAC)

June 11, 2007

Strikers at Wal-Mart supplier attacked anew for a two million contract

Seven strikers manning the picket line at C. Woo Trading, Inc.
(formerly Chong Won Fashion, Inc.) in Cavite Export Processing Zone
(CEPZ), Rosario, Cavite were violently attacked twice by heavily armed
men wearing military fatigue pants and knife-wielding goons who
boastfully introduced themselves as hired by the struck company for a
two-million contract.

"We are paid two million to demolish your strike," said one of the
attackers, when asked by the strikers what authority do they have to
dismantle their lawful strike. The attackers even challenged the
strikers to call the police, which they hinted would not come for the
latter's assistance.

Two of the attackers tried to stab union secretary Florencia
Arevalo and union president Resurreccion Ravelo of Nagkakaisang
Manggagawa sa Chong Won (United Workers in Chong Won) when they
resisted but was stopped by one of the attacker's companion because it
was not part of the contract. Arevalo and Ravelo sustained bruises and
minor wounds during the scuffle.

The alleged two million contract is the latest of the three pay offs
from the struck company that has surfaced this year. The first and
second pay offs allegedly worth P 50,000 and P 300,000 were to ensure
favorable decision from labor officials handling the cases of union
registration cancellation and the illegal strike, respectively. The
management got what it wants from these pay offs, according to the

The first attack happened at 8:30 p.m. of June 10. Nine men armed
with crowbars and knives and reeking with liquor alighted from a white
closed-van vehicle with plate number UVD-390 and with Rapid Air
Freight written on its side. They were held at knifepoint while the
men started dismantling their makeshift tents, throwing all their
personal belongings and food in the street, breaking the bottles of
their reserved drinking water, and threatening to kill them if they
don't abandon their strike and leave the struck company. Their
attackers then left them while laughing.

The second attack happened at 3:30 a.m. the next day. Around 20
bonnet-wearing men in fatigue pants and armed with M-16 assault rifles
arrived in three vehicles with covered plate numbers at the workers
picket line. They rounded up the strikers in one corner of their
vehicle and ordered them to lie face down while the barrel end of the
M-16 rifles pointed at the strikers head. Ravelo was kicked at the
back and her hair was repeatedly pulled by one of the armed men.

The armed men totally demolished to the ground the remaining
structures of the strikers' makeshift tents and threw every piece of
materials into their waiting truck.

"They (armed men) threatened to kill us one by one if they still see
our strike in the morning. They also robbed us of our cell phones,
camera, wallet, a sack of rice, and other personal belongings," said

Arevalo believed that the second attack was done by elements of
Philippine Economic Zone Authority police or by military and police
elements hired by their company. Only people vested with authority are
capable of bringing high-powered firearms in a highly and strictly
guarded CEPZ, she said.

The strikers went to the PEZA police station to seek for assistance
but were told by the police on-duty that they could not assist them
nor conduct investigation because tomorrow (Monday) is a declared
holiday. They went also to the Rosario Philippine National Police
(PNP) Municipal Station but likewise rejected of any assistance by
Deputy Chief of Police Senior Inspector Jonathan Genetiano allegedly
for lack of jurisdiction. The PNP investigators SP03 Philip Gomez and
P01 Eric Pureza also refused to blotter the incidents on two

"We have already been denied of our jobs and our rights, and now they
also want to kill us," lamented Arevalo.

"We are afraid that we may end up part of the rising
statistics of the extra-judicial killings under the Arroyo government.
If something worst happen to us, PEZA Director Lilia de Lima, DOLE
Secretary Arturo Brion, C.Woo Trading Inc. owner Yong Ryul Kim, PEZA
police force, and the Rosario PNP force should be the ones held
accountable," Arevalo further stated.

"That kind of death threat is a very serious matter that Labor
Secretary Arthuro Brion and Mrs. Arroyo should look into without
delay. Two million pesos pay off is a huge money to simply ignore the
threat," said Workers Assistance Center executive director Father Jose

Father Dizon also said that the government has to resolve the
issues of the nine-month old strike decisively and with utmost will
before unknown assassins take the lives of the strikers one after

Arevalo is demanding Wal-Mart to share its huge profit for the
striking workers and be part of the solution instead of playing
neutral to the conflict while at the same time backstabbing the
workers. Wal-Mart's "Pontius Pilate" character has already been proven
disastrous to all stakeholders, she said.

Shortly after the heavily armed men left the picket line at C. Woo
Trading Corporation, the PEZA police set up two checkpoints again to
prevent the re-entry of the strikers and for reconstructing its
demolished structures. This virtually gave confirmation to the
strikers that the two attacks were well planned and PEZA was the one
behind it.

The strike at C. Woo Trading Inc. has been going on for almost nine
months now due to management's refusal to bargain collectively for a
first collective bargaining agreement with the union and the
reinstatement of two dismissed union officers. In September last year,
the company dismissed 118 strikers as a retaliatory action against the
strikers. The company is a supplier of the US retail giant Wal-Mart.

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