Philippines: Holcim workers threaten to go on strike over CBA deadlock, unfair labour practices

On August 22, embattled Filipino cement workers in Davao, Philippines, issued a notice of strike (NOS) against the management of Holcim Davao for negotiating in bad faith the provisions of a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and committing a variety of serious unfair labour practices. According to Nelson Sator, President of the Davao Holcim Employees Workers Union-Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (DAHEWU-SENTRO), the Holcim Davao management, removed long-term worker benefits such as overtime meal allowance and defined contribution in retirement benefits, and has denied the union’s authorised representatives’ access to union meetings and other union activities on plant premises, delayed the remittance of union dues and other collectibles, and interfered with the union's internal affairs during CBA negotiations by denying it the right to confer with its authorised consultants.

Other unfair labour practices committed by the company include the failure to implement regular holiday premiums, a decrease in the hiring rate of new workers resulting in unfair wages, labour-only contracting on regular jobs, implementation of an unfair payroll system, elimination of other long-term benefits previously enjoyed by rank-and-file workers, and the reduction of the bargaining unit, which forced many workers to work overtime, jeopardising their health, safety, and personal time with their loved ones. The DAHEWU said that all of these were imposed without due notice or process, and while the company and the union were negotiating a new CBA.

Apolinar Tolentino, Asia Pacific Regional Representative of the Building and Wood Workers' International (BWI), denounced Holcim's latest machinations to repress the rights of its workers in the Philippines. He demanded that the company immediately restore all revoked current benefits already enjoyed by its workers and return to the negotiation table in good faith to reach an acceptable settlement for all parties. "Holcim Davao management is clearly violating the basic principle of non-diminution of worker benefits. It’s an obvious scare tactic to pressure the union to accept lower CBA terms and conditions compared to the  present agreement. BWI will organise and mobilise regionally and internationally to compel Holcim to end all unfair labour practices in its Davao plant in the Philippines that aim to impose its will over its workers and undermine their union." "This cannot stand," Tolentino remarked.