[WAC news alert] Workers Charged PEZA Director General, Three Others For Rights Violation

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Workers' Assistance Center

Oct 23, 2006, 6:36:13 PM10/23/06
to WAC news alert
A press release by the Workers' Assistance Center, Inc. (WAC)

October 24, 2006

Workers Charged PEZA Director General, Three Others For Rights

A formal complaint on October 23 was filed against Director General
Lilia De Lima of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) and
three others before the regional office of the Commission on Human
Rights (CHR), by union leaders and members for rights violations.

Union secretary Merly Grafe of Kaisahan ng mga Manggagawa sa Phils.
Jeon (KMPJ) and union president Resurreccion Ravelo of Nagkakaisang
Manggagawa sa Chong Won Fashion (NMCW) had their complaints received by
CHR-National Capital Region investigator Carlo Altiche.

The union leaders demanded to have the illegal and arbitrary acts
allegedly committed by Director General De Lima, PEZA Industrial
Relations Division Chief Atty. Mary Jane Arada, PEZA Police Chief
Jose Sarasua, and Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Inspector
Audie Lirio Madrideo, head of the Rosario Municipal Police Station,
investigated by the Commission.

Grafe and Ravelo are accusing the respondents of allegedly conspiring
with each other in using their authority to blatantly violate the
fundamental rights of the workers in connivance with the managements of
the struck companies.

"Our government and its law is not with us. We follow the rule of
law, yet our rights are being trampled and our bodies are being
assaulted violently. Our Korean companies arrogantly-mocked our law,
yet they are not being clubbed to suffer head and body injuries but
rather enjoy full protection and relentless favor from the
government," according to the union's joint statement.

In their complaint, they cited the violent dispersals of their strike
carried out by PEZA and its security forces on September 25 and 27 in
Chong Won and Phils. Jeon respectively without any lawful written
order. A total of 50 workers on strike were injured in that separate
incidents, including a three-month pregnant worker, Analyn Diaz, of
Phils. Jeon who had a miscarriage days later.

According to Ravelo, "The September 25 and 27 violent incidents were
the days we learned our painful lesson - that violence and repression
is indeed a state policy."

The union leaders also strongly condemn PEZA Director General De Lima
for the blanket authority she gave, in particular, to Atty. Arada and
Sarasua, in using violence, arbitrary and coercive acts against the
workers on strike such as banning the entry of the strikers to the
economic zone, continued enforcement of food and water blockade,
supplying and escorting of scabs to get into the factory, confiscation
of strikers' company identification card and zone pass, and setting
up of checkpoints to ensure no entry of strikers to their picket lines.

Ravelo and Grafe also lamented the further denigration of their rights.
On October 19, without any provocation, and upon order from Atty.
Arada, the combined force of Peza police, Rosario PNP, Jantro security
guards, company guards, goons and scabs, dismantled the makeshift
shelter of the strikers one after the other, according to them. The
striking workers are now forced to stay in their picket lines in an
open view under the heat of the sun and cold of the night.

Ravelo and Grafe further said that instead of resolving the labour
dispute, the PEZA and the owners of the two Korean companies,
shamefully conspired in undermining and stamping out their rights as
workers and human being. Not only they were denied of their rights to
strike and to bargain collectively, inhumanely, they are being denied
of their most basic rights as human beings - their right to food and
drinking water.

The unions at Chong Won Fashion Inc, a Wal-mart supplier, and at Phils.
Jeon Garments Inc. went on strike on September 25 following the
continued refusal by the two Korean-owned companies to commence
negotiation for collective bargaining agreement (CBA) despite the
finality of the decision of the Department of Labor and Employment
declaring both unions as sole and exclusive bargaining representatives
of all regular workers in the said companies.

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