Philippines: J&T Express workers stage successful strike

The United Rank and File Employees of J&T Express-FFW (URFE-J&T-FFW) in Laguna, Philippines successfully staged a three-day strike to protest the J&T management’s unfair labour practice (ULP). 

The J&T Express, a global logistics company that provides personal delivery service, allegedly resorted to ULP when it illegally suspended and subsequently dismissed the union's president, Jesher Fariñas, based on trumped up charges.

Prior to this, drivers, riders and sorters of the multinational enterprise have complained of unpaid overtime, night differential, diminution of benefits, such as incentives for long trips and allowances when stranded during transport of goods, and forced labor, among others.  The union followed all legal procedures, including the filing of a notice of strike and the conduct of a strike vote, before staging a strike on 4 June which was participated by 300 union members. 

The union’s strike received broad support from FFW local unions, the Nagkaisa! Labour Coalition, and other trade unions.

Police presence and interference marred an otherwise peaceful strike and despite existing labour laws that prohibit the presence of state security forces 50 metres of the strike area. The union leaders were also badgered by police personnel who demanded rally permits from the striking workers even if these were not legally required as the mass action was a strike.

The country’s National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) eventually intervened and attempted to conciliate the interests of the union and management. The union was represented by its officers and Atty. Sonny Matula, National President of the Federation of Free Workers (FFW). 

On 6 June, after 6 hours of dialogue, the union and the company, mediated by the NCMB, agreed to a settlement wherein both parties agreed to undergo a speedy and time-bound voluntary arbitration process to determine whether or not the union’s president was illegally dismissed and there was ULP on the part of the company.  

Both parties also agreed to submit themselves to technical assistance to settle the issues related to unpaid overtime and night differential, diminution of benefits, and unpaid allowances, among others. 

The union agreed to lift its strike to give way to the agreed process. Meanwhile, management committed to welcome back all striking workers and to refrain from making any retaliatory actions against them.