Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR)
Rm. 702 Culmat Building 127 E. Rodriguez Sr. Avenue , Brgy. Mariana, Quezon City
Telefax: 4110256 email address: ctuhr at ctuhr.org
April 11, 2007
Shipping company refuses to recognize DOLE registered union, forcing employees to become contractual workers for a manning agency
Employees of Lacosta Shipping and Lighterage Co Inc, based in Surigao province in Mindanao are protesting against the management's violations of their rights. The company's union Lacosta Shipping & Lighterage Labor Union affiliated to the National Federation of Labor Unions of Kilusang Mayo Uno (LCSLLU-NAFLU-KMU) decries the refusal of the management to negotiate and the forcible turnover of its employees to a manning agency as contractual workers.
Fifty (50) employees are manning the three vessels of the company such as the Lacosta Primero, Segundo, Tercero and a newly built Quenta. Each of the vessels carry a capacity of 1,000 metric tons of nickel ore. The company is owned by Mr. Salavador Zamora II and managed by Atty. Joseph S. Lacaste.
The employees are serving the company in an average of more than ten years in length of service who suffer from various violations of labor standards such as below minimum wages, forced overtime with no overtime pay, lack of safety devices and failure to observe holiday pay, no Sunday holiday, hospitalization and other benefits. This condition prompted them to establish a union so that irregularities will be addressed and their rights defended.
Employees organized LCSLLU in the second quarter of 2006. They registered the union to the Department of Labor and Employment in CARAGA region which granted them as the sole and exclusive bargaining agent in Lacosta Shipping and Lighterage in February this year. After few weeks, they submitted their collective bargaining proposal to the management but the latter refused to negotiate and did not recognize the newly registered union.
Instead, the employees were forced to report to UNLAD Ship Manning and Management Corporation, a manning agency which Atty. Lacaste contracted as their new employer. He tricked the workers by showing them a comparative study between their present salaries which is lower than compared to the UNLAD's offered salary if they will agree to join this agency. Atty. Lacaste and UNLAD Ship Manning and Management Corporation president Mr. Dante Jimenez of Volunteers against Crimes and Corruption also aggressively tried to convince workers to accept the new employment arrangement.
Meanwhile, a memorandum from the management of Lacosta Shipping on March 1, 2007 was given to all employees stating that their services was terminated effectively upon receiving the memorandum with a certain condition that they can continue working for the company if they will agree to work for UNLAD Ship Manning Agency as their new employer.
Two union members agreed on the arrangement. They immediately received a cash amount of P5, 000 per year length of service as their separation pay and simultaneously signed the five (5) month employment contract facilitated by the UNLAD Ship Manning Agency, while the rest refused to the said condition. As of the present, the management is forcing others to submit to their rule and declares that the situation will be back to normal if they agree to sign the new contract with the manning agency.
The harassment began. Also in March, four employees received a memo with penalty of fifteen (15) days suspension accusing them of their fault in loading procedure, insubordination, disobedience, and abandonment of works violating company rules & regulation which allegedly they committed more or less than a year before and without proper investigation. At the same time, Mr. Gregorio Lerin, the union president received a memorandum from the office of Manila that he will be transferred to the other vessel in Surigao that will cause him to abandon his loyal members.
Suddenly, on March 28, through radio communication, all of them received a final notice, informing them that the Lacosta Shipping management has concluded with UNLAD Ship Manning agency to handle all the ship manning services over the three vessels namely LCT Lacosta I, LCT Lacosta Segundo and LCT Lacosta Tercero. They are obliged to report to the UNLAD Ship Manning & Management Corp for processing their employment papers and qualified document certificate (QDC).
The union filed a case on unfair labor practices of the management in the National Conciliation and Mediation Board, DOLE-CARAGA and is planning to organize concerted actions.#
CTUHR is an independent, non-government organization engaged in documentation and monitoring of trade union and human rights violation as well as public information and advocacy forworkers' rights. For more information, please visit www.ctuhr.org