Thousands of electronics workers lost their jobs due to the sudden closure of Hoya Glass Disk Philippines in the First Philippine Industrial Park (FPIP) in Sto. Tomas, Batangas last April 30, 2014, a day before Labor Day. Workers stormed the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) regional office to file cases of illegal closure and union busting against the company. Led by the Kalipunan at Saligan ng Manggagawa sa Hoya Glass Disk Philippines – Independent (KASAMA sa HOGP-Ind), the workers filed a Notice of Strike as concrete action to denounce the closure.
On April 30, Hoya gathered its 2,600 workers in a General Assembly to serve them waivers, quitclaims, checks, and other separation documents from the company. The capitalist forced workers to accept the closure and sign the said papers through merging the last salary and separation into a single paycheck.
According to Ian Ordoño, President of KASAMA sa HOGP-Ind, “This is clearly a direct attack of the capitalist on the workers’ rights to union and decent living. First they made intrigues regarding the closure past through simple chitchats amongst the workers, days before the closure. Hoya never provided a definite reason for this.”
As said by the capitalist, the GA served as a Notice of Closure for the workers. Still, the said closure remains illegal due to the lack of prior notice to the workers, 30 days prior to the implementation date.
Blatant Union Busting
Since November 2011, workers from HOGP united against the issues they encounter inside the factory. Some of which are very low wages that rounds up at about P315/day, severe contractualization hiring more than 700 contract workers, and the absence of humane benefits. While the workers are being downtrodden, the capitalist profits $27 million dollars or 1.188 billion pesos as its net income per year. Whereas, regular workers who have been in service for HOGP for 15 years only receive a flat P500 daily salary.
“The condition inside the factory pushed more than 900 workers to form a genuine, militant, and nationalist union. We firmly believe that this is a desperate measure of the greedy capitalist to abolish the newly formed but strengthening workers’ union in Hoya. There is no other reason for this massive lay-off than their attempt to destroy our ranks.” Added Ordoño.
HOGP primarily produces lenses of hard and glass disks.
Ordoño also said that, “We, the workers, are witness to a huge production where we pour our blood and sweat into. Because of the high market demand for the products that we make, it is impossible that Hoya is generating losses. There are numerous HOGP branches in Southern Tagalog and it is uncanny that only the HOGP in Batangas, where there is a forming union, gets to be foreclosed.”
The workers learned that HOGP filed a notice of ‘cessation of business operations’ and not a ‘notice of closure’ at the Department of Labor and Employment. Also, on the first week of May, flyers containing ‘urgent hiring’ are being distributed by different contract agencies for HOGP. Senior leaders and members of the HOGP management will be re-hired upon the resumption of operations at HOGP, based on verbal agreements as witnessed by union members themselves.
Continuous Illegal Closures in ST
In February, Carina Apparel Inc. in LIIP, Biñan, Laguna illegally closed, leaving 3,600 garment workers jobless. In March, another garments factory in Carmelray 1 in Canlubang, Laguna, Freshtex Philippines suddenly closed and took away livelihood for 200 workers. In April, thousands of electronics workers in Hoya were laid-off.
According to Wenecito Urgel, General Secretary of Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan – Kilusang Mayo Uno (Solidarity of Workers in Southern Tagalog – May First Movement), “This sudden and illegal closure of factories with arbitrary reasons are the new past time of these capitalists. Their chronic rationale for these closures is ‘financial losses.’ But in the epochal hardships of workers in these factories, they only receive spare change for the billions of pesos they give to the capitalists.”
“Union busting is the only reason behind these illegal closures. Hand-in-hand with the DoLE, foreign capitalists in the country have been systematic in their efforts to destroy unions, such as that which happened in NXP, where leaders have recently been laid off in the midst of a barred CBA negotiations.” Urgel added.
On May 5, 24 union leaders at the NXP Semiconductors Philippines were laid off due to ‘illegal strike’. The case filed against the leaders was based on the non-attendance of workers during official holidays set by the government. The illegal dismissal happened amidst the union’s collective bargaining negotiations.
“We have proven, once again, that the various agencies under the Aquino administration has never served the interests of the workers. They have been, are, and will be only for the benefit of the foreign capitalists.” Said Urgel.
Last May 6, on their first case hearing, KASAMA sa HOGP-Ind and supporters from other local companies in the region were informed that some 50 workers from Hoya are being paid at the regional office of National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) by the HOGP management.
“It is unethical for a government agency to involve itself in issues between the capitalist and its workers while there is an ongoing case filed in another government agency. NLRC should be at the forefront of fixing labor disputes and not settling them the capitalist’s way.” Urgel added.
Capitalists become courageous in implementing anti-worker policies in spite of the Philippine Constitution because they are backed-up by different government agencies such as DoLE and NLRC.
BS Noynoy Aquino and his cronies are busied by their submission on foreign monopoly capitalists who diffuse different unjust measures that leads to these cases. Right after Barrack Obama’s state visit last April 28-29, BS Aquino held a bogus consultation with the labor sector – but all he has promised was to ‘further investigate’ on those matters.
“It is evident that all BS Aquino did was mislead the workers and clearly has no interest in catering their needs. In fact, workers experience termination, factory closure leading to job losses, and enslavement due to policies in favor of the capitalists almost everyday. Only in the unity of the workers in Hoya will they triumph their fight against the illegal closure. They should not let the efforts of establishing a genuine, militant, and nationalist union go to waste. Now, more than ever, is the need to unite and strengthen their force to fight for their rights!” Urgel ended.