BWI condemns attack on picket line of laid off workers at Holcim cement Davao plant


“BWI condemns the cowardly attacks on the picket line of laid off workers at Holcim Cement Davao Plant in the Philippines on 22 April by unknown persons taking advantage of the COVID pandemic and the government's 'stay at home' order," says Ambet Yuson, BWI General Secretary.


This is the second time that the workers' picket line was attacked, since it was mounted by the laid off workers on 6 March 2019. The workers are demanding justice for Holcim's series of unfair mass dismissal of its contractual workers and continuous starvation of their families after serving for very long years as contractual employees.


The previous time was last year at dawn of May 1 when the workers were set to commemorate the International Labor Day. It was perpetuated by around 20 men riding motorcycles with knives who daringly swooped down on the workers' picket line. They methodically stripped clean the striking area destroying all placards and banners.


During the second attack, the striking workers in the picket line noticed that the lights of Holcim simultaneously shut off when the perpetrators removed all the hanging protest materials. One of the union members guarding the picket that night said the incident occurred around 12:35 in the morning while it was raining hard. He immediately woke up his companions and asked the men not to remove the banners but upon seeing them with long knives, they just let them take it for fear of their security and lives.


Some of the DAHEWU-SENTRO leaders and members also received grave threats and were intimidated through mobile texts and social media. The union reported these attacks and threats to the police authorities, but no appropriate action was taken.


BWI and SENTRO have filed a complaint against the Swiss cement giant LafargeHolcim, regarding its lack of respect for workers’ rights at their plant in Davao, where it has been replacing directly-employed workers with sub contracted workers to do the core work of cement production; thereby, cutting costs of wages and depriving them of important rights and benefits.


BWI and SENTRO are urging the Swiss NCP to recommend that LafargeHolcim conduct due diligence with respect to the adverse impacts on workers caused by the labour practices of Group members, and, in particular to the relationships under which work is performed. The majority of workers performing work at the Holcim Philippines plant were inadequately protected and compensated and were subject to discriminatory working conditions for years.

The Philippines remains among the ten worst countries for working people in 2020, according to the ITUC Trade Union Rights Index, where rights of workers are restricted through limiting collective bargaining, disrupting the right to strike and protest, and excluding workers from unions, which calls for an even greater effort of multinational companies to respect and adhere to international core labour standards.